Growing up, I was always told “Just do your best.” In most moments I heard this, it frustrated me, and I always wondered why. It sounded like positive advice. “Just do your best.” Of course. "OUR BEST" is what we ALL want to do in life.
Here are some of the times I heard the “just do your best” phrase during my adolescents:
- The night before a big test or project presentation.
- Before the 400 meter race at a track meet.
- During the middle of a crazy busy week filled with homework, sports, and clubs.
It took about a decade and a half to discover the root of my frustration at hearing this “just do your best” phrase.
I was misinterpreting it. You see,
Doing my best didn’t always mean doing the hightest I was capable of, ever, in the history of me.
It only meant performing at the highest level I was able to at THAT MOMENT IN TIME.
But, see. I didn’t KNOW THAT. And therein lay my frustration.
We all have times when we’re in our element, we’re rockin’ it, we KNOW we’re going to shine. We’re going to kick butt and take names. There are other times, we’re just not at our peak.
Maybe it’s because of a late night. Maybe it’s because we just spent five days sick with the flu. Maybe it’s because we have so many things on our plate vying for our attention, and our usually high mojo is spread thin. WHATEVER the reason, in that moment, “OUR BEST” isn’t our ULTIMATE best, it’s just going to be the very best we can give RIGHT AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME.
I think that’s what my parents always meant. I just didn’t get it. And that’s why I was always frustrated.
When they said “Just do your best,” I immediately pictured the girl I was when I was at my peak. Unfortunately, usually, when I was asking for their reassurance (and when they offered the “just do your best” advice), it was because I was nervous. I wasn’t AT my peak. Things had come up in that moment that had made the opportunity for me to shine at my highest potential NOT POSSIBLE.
Oh, if only I’d known….
I was supposed to do AS GOOD AS I COULD at that moment in time, not superstar good. Not my crazy peak state good. Just my best that I could offer IN THAT MOMENT. That’s all. That’s all anyone should ever ask of us. That’s all we should ask of ourselves.
It would have been so calming. Isn’t that a calming thought? It’s also a good challenge to us every day.
DO YOUR BEST. Whatever that looks like. Right now. In this moment. Don’t freak out when the “level” of your best VARIES. (Hour to hour, day to day, week to week.) It’s still your best. That doesn’t mean you’re slacking off, that just means you’re LIVING LIFE. And sometimes, life throws a lot of fireballs at you at once.
Sometimes, you’ll be juggling all your fireballs at the top of the tightrope walk on a unicycle, and you’ll be smiling while the crowd ooh’s and aah’s. You’re in your element.
Sometimes you’ll be standing on the ground holding one fireball in your hands while it burns your skin up.
You see? Sometimes we do CRAZY GOOD. Sometimes we simply do GOOD ENOUGH. It doesn't mean we let the fireball drop.
If you are doing the best you can at any given moment, even if it feels like you’re offering out the pig-slop version of yourself, it WAS good enough.
Let me repeat. It was GOOD enough.
Just do your best. For that moment. Take a deep breath. Move on. You’ll shine sometimes. You'll simply radiate awesomeness at others. Sometimes, you'll slightly glimmer.
The good news? It's all you. And it’s ALL your best.
For more blog posts and inspiration visit heiditankersley.com