At the Evening of Honors last year, I dedicated my Presidency to the memory of Ken Robinson, who should have been our 2020 PPRS President.
In truth, I always doubted that I could live up to Ken’s legacy. It is hard to say enough about the remarkable person and professional that Ken was. He was dynamic, engaging, grounded, thoughtful, direct, friendly, strategic, detail-oriented, compassionate, quick-witted, honest, devoted, understanding and so much more.
He was also excellent during a crisis – and, if nothing else, 2020 was a crisis.
For a while, I tried to measure myself by Ken’s yardstick, feeling frustrated every time I fell short.
Then, about halfway through the year, I recognized the tremendous disservice I was doing – not only to myself – but to Ken’s memory. Like an epiphany, I realized Ken would have been the first to tell me that I cannot evaluate myself based on what I believed he would have done in my place. Ken would have counseled me to set my own benchmark for excellence, every single day. I believe he would tell every person reading this the same thing.
Never look to someone else to define success. Our personal bests must be unique because we are all special in our own way.
This year Ken taught me that, many times, our best qualities are stuck to our back, where everyone can see them except us.
Ken had a lot of strengths – strengths I admire and respect – but so do I. Every person that has touched this organization, past and present, contributes talents and perspectives that are distinctive and exceptional. They are uniquely yours and should be celebrated.
With that in mind, I encourage you to cut yourself some slack. This year has been hard on everyone. It is okay if it was not your best. Please do not make it more difficult by being cruel to yourself.
I find that I am consistently my harshest critic. I would detest anyone who voiced the merciless rebukes that I repeat to myself, often without even pausing at my savagery. If you can, please attempt to curb that vicious inner voice occasionally. Strive to speak to yourself with the same courtesy you would extend to anyone else. Remember, no one else can ever be a better you than you are – so be you, without embarrassment or dissatisfaction.
As I reflect on my term as PPRS President, I want to take a moment to thank Ken for teaching me this final lesson. He offered me a revelation that I will cherish all my life. I share it with you now in the hopes that you appreciate and consider it.
2020 PPRS President