14 April 2009

highest and best use: of possibilities, potential, and the life we lead

Ever heard of the real estate principle known as “Highest and Best Use”?

Highest and Best Use states that the value of a property is directly related to the use of that property; the highest and best use is the reasonably probable use that produces the highest property value.

So whether one is looking at scrubby Kansas prairie or urban land in Manhattan, one has to think through the same things. Both tracts have a best use, a value ceiling. No two tracts are the same. And no two tracts are perfectly comparable.
We are much the same aren’t we?

All of that to say that I think we all have a highest and best use. I think we all have a value ceiling, a place where we fit the groove that was ultimately designed for us.

But just like real estate, our highest and best use is governed by some important factors. To be considered an option for best use, the option must be:

* legally allowable
* physically possible
* financially feasible
* maximally productive

So, I could say that my highest and best use would be to become a world-class weight-lifter so I could rip phone books in half for Jesus. Fortunately for the world (and Jesus), that is not physically possible. I am skinny. Plan to stay that way.

I could say that my highest and best use would be to adopt and lovingly raise two dozen South African children. That, however, is illegal. Americans are not allowed to adopt South Africans.

Sometimes our best qualities (or our favorite talents and skills) are not what the world needs from us. I love to write. I have been told that I should consider writing professionally. Maybe. But maybe my best is so far inferior to the best of the best that I should consider something else entirely. Or maybe this venue is the proper one for my writing. Maybe the highest ad best use for my writing is in this blog. Maybe the highest and best use for my life is not this blog.

I wonder how many of us have actually sat and considered our highest and best use. Because I have this feeling that a lot of us spend our lives seeking the highest and best uses of others. The religious seek to become preachers or worship-superstars. The ambitious seek to become billionaires or professional athletes. All of us seek draining activities for the applause and approval they bring without considering whether they are maximally productive.

So where would we find ourselves...if we found ourselves in the position that offered the highest and best use?


  1. Wow. That was really stunning. Do you write like this all the time?

    I'm not gonna lie...I had to really focus on what you wrote, because the Savage Chicken cartoon was fantastic!

  2. thanks for the kind words, kat.

    savage chickens are pretty great. white meat. dry humor.