There are many opportunities in your day-to-day life to do your best. Sadly we don’t always take the time to do it. Sometimes we settle for less and tell ourselves that it will be good enough. We cut corners at work or at school, we short-change our families on our commitments to them, we don’t always give our friends the friendship they deserve. The problem with settling for less is it can become a habit then grow into a normal state for everything you do.
The other side of this coin is that conscious decision to do the best you can in every situation. There is a chance to step up and see what you can do almost every day. Sometimes the stepping up is a big deal and other times it is a small thing but either way there is a lesson to be learned, that everything you do in life matters.
There are plenty of activities that will quickly let you know if you think you can get away with less than your best. If you are a great bowler and you stop working at your score then you will quickly find yourself in the gutter. If you have been hitting home runs but stop being committed to your swing, foul balls and strikeouts are your new future.
When you do try to do your best all the time then you find yourself in a great new place. Living by this principle is a challenge but taking that approach with physical exercise is a great way to develop the habit. If I face a challenge to see how many repetitions of an exercise I can do and I keep going to failure then I know I’ve done my best. But if it starts to get hard and I decide to stop early then I have just shortchanged myself.
Watching athletes I know push themselves to their limits is both exciting and inspiring to witness. With the recent Crossfit Open Games competition there have been plenty of inspirational moments and they don’t all come from the top athletes. It is often far more impressive to me to see someone who is struggling with an exercise continue to try even through repeated failures. When they do get it, the moment is so much sweeter and I am grateful for these glimpses at greatness that come from them. You don’t have to be an uber athlete to be great in my book. You just have to put forth great effort. To do your best is the reward. That your best doesn’t compare to what a stronger athlete can do doesn’t mean that your best wasn’t good enough, because it was. Putting everything into a physical challenge is enormously satisfying because you truly know then that you absolutely tried your hardest. If someone feels that your score was a lesser score because its numeric value was lower than another athlete’s, then they don’t know anything about effort.
With physical effort the measurable results make it easier to recognize that someone has done their best. It’s more subtle in other areas and often takes a bit more sensitivity to recognize. That person who is quick to lend a helping hand, the one who knows the importance of doing things the right way and following through on those commitments we all face. Those are people who inspire me and help guide me to making better choices. In the end I hope to be measured by the way I lived my life not what I accumulated in it. I hope to simply do my best in all things and to all people because ultimately I know short cuts are dead ends and the real route lies in effort and commitment and integrity. The great thing about this is we all know deep inside of ourselves what our best is. We know we’ve done a good thing when we help someone or do something that makes a difference. The secret is to see that inside yourself and make it your goal.
Every day is a new chance to try to do your best.