Most often, the reasons we strive to achieve or accomplish are all wrong. We apply ourselves, we study, practice, we workout to stand out. We want others to notice. They will… for a while. Others may actually notice and acknowledge your efforts. They may even encourage and applaud all that you do… for a while. Then, after a point, they just don’t care anymore. It’s to no fault of yours, nor is it their fault. People have their own lives, interests and challenges, so tracking the ups and downs of your life becomes unreasonable if not impossible. They move on!

Exceptions may be celebrities, actors, athletes, musicians, ministers, etc. They provide entertainment value, and no one tires of entertainment. The problem with these pursuits, however, is sustainability. Professional athletes have shelf lives after which they’re replaced by younger athletes. Think of some of your favorite TV stars. Shows like Miami Vice and C.H.I.P.S. come to mind. Some of my favorite musicians have been all but forgotten. They’re not retired or deceased, just forgotten, rendered irrelevant. They no longer participate in programs like the Grammy Awards which once celebrated excellence in music, but now only celebrates popularity in music.

Every day you wake up with the opportunity to be better than you were the day before. In fact, every moment of every day you have the opportunity to improve yourself. Your mind is constantly active, alert, waiting for new input. Feed it the same stuff every day, and you will continue to be you, just as you’ve always been, no better, no worse—just the same old you. However, if you take every opportunity to input new ideas, new mentors, new challenges, you will notice a change. If you do it to become a better you, maybe even an awesome you, you may avoid the pitfalls and disappointment of realizing no one really cares. No one is watching but you, and that’s all that matters because self-respect is the best respect.

In explaining why he assaulted Chris Rock, Will Smith said, “love can make you do crazy things.” That may be true, but the real issue may not be love, but embarrassment. Love can lead to crimes of passion, but embarrassment can make you do crazy things too, violent things. Embarrassment can make you do things that are… embarrassing. Smith has had an amazing career, an awesome life, enviable by most standards, then in a matter of mere moments, we watched as he reduced it all to the slap heard around the world. Why? Our culture places a premium on respect. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. “Put some respect on my name.” When Will shouted, “Keep my wife’s name out yo mouth” it was all about respect. He’s been fighting for it since “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Will Smith has had a truly awesome life, but the slap was proof positive of just how hard it’s been.

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