No Shame for Doing Your Best

The sixty-first verse of the Havamal tells us groom ourselves to the best of our ability and to not be ashamed if we do not own finery. This tells us much about self-respect and the respect we have for others. It is a good lesson for today.

The verse says not to be ashamed if you are stuck with lower quality clothes or even a poor quality horse. I think we can safely extend that to the modern equivalents such as having a beater car or using public transportation. This reminds us that we must persevere even if we aren't doing so well socially or economically.

This also suggests that we should not judge people based on outward appearances. A respectable person may be dressed in rags and an idiot may be dressed in the finest. A simple look at the Internet and television will show examples of this.

In my employment over the years, I've had many co-workers and employees. There have been people with developmental disabilities who were limited in the type of work they could do. Most worked hard anyway and did as much as they could. That was very respectable.

At the same time, I've had associates who did not have those limitations. These folks were capable of much more. However, many of them would not do their best, at least not in a reliable fashion. If I could not rely on them, how much respect did I have for them? It's not that they needed to be running at one-hundred percent all the time, only when the situation warranted it. Without the trust, there could not be respect.

You may have heard the expression, "dress for the job you want." It may be the case that you cannot afford this. That's okay, but you can still carry yourself in a closer fashion. See to your grooming and hygiene. Make sure your clothes are as well cared for as possible. You may have to mend clothes or get them at a second hand store. Whatever you are doing, it is important that you be doing your best to be your best. It may not do much else in your life, but it is the effort that matters.

The Havamal also tells us that a sleeping wolf gets no bone, nor a sleeping man victory (verse 28). This is the other part to maintaining your clothes and grooming as best you can. Even good clothes, worn sloppily, will tell people that you do not care enough about yourself and other things. Poor clothes worn with dignity sends a different message. You want to make that effort so people will believe you will continue to make an effort if they give you opportunity.

If you can afford good clothes, remember not to be vain or wasteful. You still need to be respectable as a person. You never want to end up in a situation where you are useless because you can only bring riches to bear.

The point of all of this is that you must be respectable as a person and much of that starts with self respect. It may take a long time, but the self respect will translate into respect from your others and may provide you the opportunities you need to be more successful.