Your Best is Good Enough...For Today.
Thanks to a “chinese” food takeout order (shout-out to the sizzling shrimp), I recently got a reminder that “my best is enough.” It also recently reminded me that, “I have a natural grace and consideration for others.”
Both lovely sentiments. Thankfully, I don’t need the validation of a “panda,” but those did make me think about what each of our “best” looks like? It may be true that not all “best” are considered equal and pitted against one another, we might easily be out-bested.
Yet, the key word in the phrase was that it was “my best” that was enough, not “my best” while competing with others…no, just my everyday best regardless of the circumstances.
The thing is, we all need this reminder as there are times when we do push ourselves beyond our limits, at times to help take the load off others. Other times just to keep the pace that we set on our quest to meet the finish line, or just the status quo.
The problem is that once we show our true best, that is the side of us that people expect every single day. Yet, the best that we can give can change from one day to the next. The best that I can give today, may not be the best that I can give tomorrow.
There are a multitude of variables that impact what our best is on any given day–state of mental health, general health, confidence-levels, knowledge of subject matter, expertise in area where the best is expected. The list can go on-and-on.
Often time, however, we tend to set expectations and when we don’t meet them, people can easily move on to whomever they do consider to be the “new best.”
It’s what any awards shows, entertainment industry not-withstanding, are all built on, yet what a critic or the general public might consider the best is all subjective. It’s not as if the directors, actors, or music composers, etc. all adapt the same film in order to be judged on equal ground.
In elementary school, junior high, and high school to a certain extent– I was always considered amongst the best, if not oftentime the best student. I never really felt that pressure as it all for the most part came somewhat easy to me, of course I worked hard, did the homework, etc. but I also knew how to have fun and my life didn’t revolve around just my grades, etc. My parents were proud of my academic achievements, but in all honesty, I doubt that they were ever fully aware of all of my achievements and to what high-regard i was held. I preferred it that way, and in a way I was lucky to not have the extra burden of my parents applying extra pressure on me to perform.
The by-product of doing “my best” got me volunteered or rather recruited, mostly without really having an option, to join most of the academic teams in my formative years–Math Counts, Academic Decathlons, Spelling Bees, Whiz Kids (I didn’t name these–even then I could’ve come up with a much better name–my brain has always been that of a marketer), AP and Honors courses, etc., etc. Just because I got good grades, it was assumed that I was smart enough to lead or participate in some of these other brain-testing contests and extracurricular activities.
The thing is, that while those weren’t always my choice to participate in, and I didn’t always enjoy them–if you know me personally, you will know that I’m not really a competitive person they did help me better “my best.” I have zero need to see how well I can do against another person as I’m overall fairly confident in what I hold expertise in or may be naturally gifted at. I can also typically quickly assess what another’s strengths might be, which should give me an edge over any competitors, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter at all to me to outperform anyone else.
To me, I am my only competition and am more concerned with my own personal growth as a human in a multitude of areas, than I am in seeing how I perform over anyone else.
In college, my competence made me one of “the best” and someone that people came to constantly. They assumed I was smart, but I don’t know that I ever really shared my grades with anyone–they were fine, but not that it mattered. College success was based more about leading, social skills, and of course interpersonal skills. Winning over professors and classmates. Things I wasn't trying to do, but I'm a smart aleck and get along with others pretty easily--I enjoyed having more than my fair share of fun. The grades just helped with securing the degree and at times gave me a pass if I ever did get into any mild trouble. Again, I wasn’t going to school to become an attorney or a doctor where my academic performance may have mattered more in a post-collegiate journey, so being the best in my class wouldn’t have made much of a difference in my career–and it hasn’t. Since graduating, no one has ever asked me about my grades or GPAs. My first few employers did, however, want to know about all of the times where I’d led or taken ownership of a project, etc.
Continuing to show competence and an ability to collect both small and big “wins” in my career made me one of the “best” at what I do.
Yet, to be honest, just like since my elementary school days, throughout my entire academic and professional career, doing “my best” has always resulted in adding more to my plate–sometimes by choice, most of the time not.
Doing a good job consistently and exhibiting a strong sense of responsibility and showing up as the calm one in a crisis definitely kept me a little too busy for most of my life. Yet, I don’t and won’t regret that work ethic and because of those qualities I have gotten to touch some amazing things since I was a kid. And boy, have I learned–sometimes from “the best.” And credit where credit is due, quite often I was the best, because the team that supported me or that I collaborated with was also the best.
We all have different journeys and we’ve all done our best at different times in different situations. Sometimes, it can be hard to show up and give your best, but it’s about time that the entire world shifted their perspective as instead of the general “just do your best,” it should instead be, “do your best for today.” We are all human and as tempting as pushing ourselves to “perform at our best” every single day, it just isn’t possible.
So, do yourself a favor, show up as authentically as possible both in your personal relationships and professional career.
Remember that your best expires at the end of each day and that you have the opportunity to beat your own best each and every day that follows.
However, and most importantly it is ok if the best that you can give is only good for how you’re feeling that day.
In the end, you gave your best for the day and that is good enough.