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Try Your Best, Do Your Best, Be the Best

From childhood, you are told to try your best. Parents, teachers, and coaches encourage you to give it your best, do your best, and be the best. You face competition with siblings and other family members at home and with friends and classmates at school. More often than not, this constant pressure to “be the best” creates unrealistic expectations that follow you into adulthood.


When you enter the workforce, the message continues. Seek, reach, and exceed. Finish first, finish strong. Give it all you’ve got. Give it your best. Here’s the thing: your best is different every day. When you had a good night’s sleep, your best is different than when you’ve tossed and turned. When you’re having an outstanding day, your best is different than when the day is tough. When your team is working well together, your best is different than when the group is struggling. Some days, your best is being super productive, having purposeful conversations, and making sound, strong decisions. Some days, your best is making it into the shower.


Cut yourself some slack. For that matter, cut your team some slack, too. As long as you truly are providing to the best of your ability at that moment, you are doing what you are supposed to do. The same is true for the people who work for you. Do you need to hold them accountable? Yes. Are they required to fulfill their job responsibilities? Of course. Are they going to be perfect? Never. Neither are you. Imagine what the world could be if all people could take a step back and realize that everyone is doing the best they can.


In the book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz writes of four personal commitments that, if practiced, lead to a happy, fulfilling life. One of those is “always do your best.” He writes, “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.” In leadership, you are in a unique position both to nurture and to expect greatness from yourself and the people you work with. You can do so, with compassion and humility, by giving the best of yourself and by knowing that your best is different every day. So is everyone else’s. And that’s okay.

diagram of your best


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