[April 24, 2019] In my Sophomore year in college, I took a Psychology course that required students to read a book titled, I’m Okay, You’re Okay.1 It helped me accept myself. But, I should have rejected the author’s advice and recognized that I was not what I could be.
If only I prioritized better, worked harder, and got my own life together, then I would have been better off than accepting a lesser self.
“I don’t tell people, ‘You’re okay the way that you are.’ That’s not the right story. The right story is, ‘You’re way less than you could be.’” – Jordan B. Peterson, Professor of Psychology at the University of Toronto
Years ago, there an old Army recruiting video on television. It was very effective and ran for many years. It showed a paratrooper jumping out of a C-131 transport aircraft, landing on a large field, and the announcer saying, “We do more before 9 am than most people do all day.” Then the video plays the “Be all you can be” song. You can see it on YouTube at this link; only 30 seconds.
The idea behind the commercial was to get young men to start thinking about how they could be better than what they are now. All they had to do, of course, was to join the U.S. Army. An old message since the beginning of humankind was to do those things in your life that made you better than you are today. Things like participation in sports competition, advanced education, being a part of a valued organization, etc. It took sacrifice to do so, and that’s why we say discipline matters most.
Truly, you are not what you could be. Every one of us has the potential to do more; whether it’s improving our family life, better physical fitness, helping our community, being a good and moral person, and teaching others how to be stronger, smarter, and more resilient. My grandmother, bigmama, you to say “make something of yourself.” She knew more than I could have imagined and she was right.
- The 1967 self-help book by Thomas A. Harris was written to help people understand their life position and how it affects their relations with others. However, its final theme is that nations will mature sufficiently to avoid future wars and disharmony. While that is a bit of a logical stretch, the book did help many down-and-out people. I, however, believe that the book is more about building confidence than the building us up to be better.