We’re not always going to be at our objective best.
This seems obvious— so obvious that it’s not even worth mentioning. OF COURSE we’re not always going to be at our objective best.
But, a lot of people seem to expect that, or even demand that, of themselves, all day, every day…and they can be vicious with themselves when they’re NOT at their best.
Alternatively, some people kind of give upon being their best in ANY given situation, due to how horrible they feel— and since they can’t be at what they consider their “best,” they often just kind of give up on the situation at all.
“Your best” is not a black and white thing. It’s not “be your best or be nothing.”
The key is to search for being your situational best— for doing what you can with what you have in any given situation.
The phrase “try your best” gets a bad rap.
We’ve been told over and over again that “trying” is for losers…that, in the famous words of Yoda from “The Empire Strikes Back,” our options are “do, or do not…there is no try.”
I have some kind of startling news for some people who love that quote…it’s kind of nonsense.
How do you think you end up successfully “doing” something?
That’s right— by trying. Often by trying unsuccessfully a few (or many!) times.
“Trying” is not nothing. It doesn’t mean “doing a thing half assed.”
The truth is, we’re often not yet equipped to do a thing.
Maybe we’re not strong enough, or not experienced enough, or we don’t have the right kind of support to do the thing just then.
But how do we GET stronger or GET more experienced?
Yup— we try.
When we try something, without necessarily knowing if we can do it or not, we’re shooting for our situational best.
We can acknowledge that we might, in fact, fail— and that’s not, in fact, the end of the world.
Failing at a thing is not failing as a person. No matter what your inner critic says.
When you look at people who end up successfully doing things, what you very often find is that the people who end up “doing” are those who tried the most…and thus gained the most experience and made the most appropriate changes to their approach.
All of this might sound obvious. But people don’t behave as if it’s obvious.
Very often people resist trying something if they think they’re not going to be great at it.
(In fact, there some personal growth “teachers” who stupidly advise people to not bother trying things they’ll “never be great at”…as if nobody has ever learned something or enriched their lives by engaging in an activity that they’re not masterful at.)
As a rule, we tend to be VERY hard on ourselves for not being at our objective best.
We tend to make excuses and give explanations for WHY we’re not at our objective best…when the truth is, NOBODY is at their objective best all of the time, even most of the time.
Most of the things I write are pretty good. The things I write that are my objective best are few and far between…and if they are my objective best, that’s usually because I’ve put a lot of effort into writing and polishing them.
Striving to be at your objective best all the time will burn you out…and it’s not necessary.
Shoot for your situational best.
Shoot for making the most of the energy, focus, and resources you have available in any given situation.
Resist the urge to see situations as black and white, the opportunity to either “succeed” or “fail.”
Success and failure are rarely so categorical.
No matter what Master Yoda says.
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