Why doing your best is always good enough Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 27 August 2012 19:00
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Look, I get it. One should never allow that which you cannot do to interfere with that which you can do. I guess it boils down to doing the best you can with who you are. But add the word ‘just’ to this “doing your best” cliché and see how it changes the equation.

Somehow the phrase “just do your best” has always made me squirm. Something doesn’t seem to be quite right with it. Isn’t it the kind of thing you say to a bookish sort of child forced to compete in primary school athletics? Something akin to a booby prize for coming dead last. At least you did your best. So, who cares?

You should. You should because there’s the world of difference between “the best” and “your best”. “The best” has something to do with holding yourself up to other people’s standards; with going all out to fit into someone else’s vision of success.

Madisyn Taylor says that if everyone is striving for the same outcome, we lose out on creativity, diversity and visionary alternatives to the way things are done. She says you may not be able to achieve someone else’s idea of the best, but the good news is . . . that’s not your burden.

Celebrate who you are. Comparing yourself to others is not only unnecessary; it can be fatal to fulfilling your own potential. And don’t confuse reputation with character. The one is who you are; the other is what people think you are.

So, to all you over-achievers out there, “doing your best” is not a cop-out; it is finding out who you really are. Your best guide is to move to your own internal rhythm and to take your eye off the scoreboard. Then you’ll know when it is time to stop working and when to rest.

Pushing our bodies to work beyond their natural rhythm diminishes our ability to renew and recharge, says Madisyn. You know you’ve been overriding your rhythm when you experience a feeling much like jet lag. And this doesn’t just mean that you’re moving faster than what is natural for you; it can also mean that you’re moving slower.

Once you find your own flow, everything you need to do will take less effort. You find your flow in the present moment; the only place you can show up in your own life. And this doesn’t only mean showing up for the good times; you have to show up even when you’re suffering.

Showing up for your pain, being ready to be there for yourself whatever might happen, is the only way to learn what the experience has to offer you. And then you do the best you can with it. Nobody else will ever know. As a matter of fact, they are incapable of knowing whether or not you show up for your pain and whether you did the best or the next best thing you could.

Theodore Roosevelt said that in any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Doing nothing might seem like a neat way to avoid doing the wrong thing, but believe me, you just end up turning into a pillar of salt. And you’re not Lot’s wife, girlfriend. You’re not going to look back over your shoulder; you’re going to rush ahead to meet every experience, whether good or bad, in the best way you can.

In any case, how do you know that the ‘unexpected’ or the ‘bad’ or the ‘unwanted’ is not actually the universe’s way of preparing you for more than you knew to ask for?

When the going gets tough, there are things you might find out about yourself that you never otherwise would have. I know that this is difficult to remember when the sky comes crushing down on your head.

So, you got knocked down, but you’ve risen again, rattlesnake. Roll with the punches. Go with it. Swerve. Bounce back, babe, and step and step and give it your best twirl. Your very best.

Of course it’s good enough. It comes from you. It is for you.

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