It’s Ok To Just Do Your Best
There is definitely something to be said for healthy competition, but I do believe we also need to understand that it’s more than ok to just do your best. There are many people out there that will flare up like a cobra and tell me how ‘if you’re not first, you’re last’. But, this is not intended to disregard healthy competition. At all! This is more about us as individuals and how we can be way too hard on ourselves. And, a little bit about how we should never make people feel small about their efforts. Wink, wink.
In the end what I want is for us to know that if you have indeed done everything we can, then our best is enough! This is about sending ourselves a message that we are capable. That WE are enough, despite our supposed flaws or failures. Given the right feedback we can achieve so much more, instead of feeling like we’re letting the entire universe down if we are less than perfect. What we need is a paradigm shift that allows us to reach our higher potential, instead of the one that leaves us wanting more.
Let me start with a tough question. How often do you actually do your best? Ouch, I know. But, most of the time we are focused on everything else besides our own efforts – the obstacles, other people’s opinions, the competition etc. What happens is we use them as an excuse. We pull back on our efforts because it’s easier to use an excuse than it is to do your best. Does this ring true for you? If you thought this blog was about getting off lightly, you were wrong. I want us to put in 100% and then be satisfied that we did!
Take a look at your life and be honest about whether you are using excuses or not. Do you want to take a course for example and tell yourself you just don’t have the time? Is this doing your best or is this just finding a convenient excuse that ‘gets you off the hook’? The things that we want most in our lives can actually be the scariest and the one’s we are most likely to use excuses for.
Remind yourself that while you need to do your best in life, it takes courage and self-belief to actual show up and really do your best. If you are afraid of failing remember that failure only happens to those who actually tried and that means you’re already one step ahead of the person who didn’t try. Plus, you gain confidence and skills and lessons in every attempt. Nothing is achieved if you don’t try. Never give up on your dreams out of fear.
Does Coming Second Make us Weak?
This is where the problem comes in. Once again, healthy competition is just that – healthy. We need competition to, not push, but encourage us to be our best. But, the concept has gone too far. Especially when young children start to see themselves as worthless because they came, not last, but second place! This is far from healthy. Shouldn’t we be finding a balance where we can teach competition and self-worth in one? Why do we need to sacrifice one for the other?
We need to become more aware of the impact of our ‘healthy competition’. Encouragement is always the better approach. If you have experienced the pressure of competition you will understand what I mean. And, it’s not only in sports or the work environment either. It shows up in studies, social gatherings, our appearance etc. The world is full of competition. What percentage of it would you say is healthy? I’m inclined to think competition has become more of a problem than the positive ‘go-getter’ attitude it has been built up to be. For all the good intentions in the world I think it might be in need of a re-frame.
Knowing It’s Enough
If we are constantly telling ourselves that our best is not good enough, what kind of a message are we sending ourselves? How will it affect the way we show up for ourselves and our families if we believe we are not enough? We have to believe in ourselves before anyone else. Yes, we need support and validation from the people that we respect, but we can have all the encouragement in the world and without self-belief it has surprisingly little value! And, when we show the people around us that we see our own value we send them a message that valuing yourself is important. If you have children this is especially important.
One of the greatest things you can do for yourself is to realize your value is not linked to a job or a bank balance. Success and worth are not mutually exclusive. The funny thing is, the less we worry about achieving for the sake of proving ourselves the more ease we discover and the more we are able to achieve. Why? Because putting less emphasis on the ‘outcomes’ takes the pressure off and allows us to work at our full potential, from a place of inspired action. It allows our flow, our ‘enoughness’ to be set free! This is when you go from the anxiety ridden ‘just do your best’ to the ‘this is my best’. You breathe easy knowing you cannot get it wrong because there is nothing about you that is ‘wrong’. You are just showing up. Doing your best!
When we are little we are told to ‘just do your best’ but almost in the same breath we get a ‘come on, you can do it’ in a tone that sends a very contradictory message. Is our best good enough or not? We are left confused. Then, we get older and the question hanging over our worth is highlighted by constant competition. Competition to do well in school, competition to attract a partner, competition to get the promotion. We are faced with the question of whether we are good enough all the time.
With age we start to question these constructs. And, that right there is the key to our freedom. We get to choose. We get to choose who we want to be and how we want to show up in the world. To make our own choices about what makes sense to us and what works for us. We learn to trust our own instincts and show up as our best selves, knowing that the right job, partner, friends will present themselves to us. The more you lean in to who you are at your core, the less the ‘competition’ matters or affects you. You know that you are able to choose and create life the way that it fits right for you.
What if My Best isn’t ‘As Good’?
This is a major part of the problem, and why I wanted to write this blog. Self-love. So many of us suffer from a chronic lack of self-love. If we don’t develop a strong self of self and with it an unshakeable sense of self-love, we will never believe our best is good enough. Even if someone tells you directly to your face to ‘just do your best’ you will doubt your worth. Self-love conquers all doubts because when you truly love yourself you have learned to accept yourself as perfectly imperfect. You have come to realize that we all have different strengths and weaknesses and that’s part of the beauty of being human.
In short, your best will always be good enough if you are only comparing it to your own efforts. So, yesterday you know in your heart that you gave it your all but today you just weren’t feeling it. Were you doing your best? No. And, that’s okay sometimes too. Sometimes we just need a break from the pressure we put on ourselves. But, when you are measuring your worth you must look at your results based on the efforts you put in and the efforts you know you are capable of putting in. Never on what others expect you to be capable of.
Positive vs Negative Feedback
The great lesson is that we all thrive on positive feedback. So, if there’s competition, great! But, don’t diminish someone’s value if they aren’t top of the class. Celebrate their strengths, we all have them! Don’t make the creative child feel ‘stupid’ because they are terrible at maths, and vice versa. This world was made complex and unique for a reason, and so were we. Celebrate your differences because they are part of your purpose in this life.
I have never met a person who enjoys negative feedback. Constructive maybe, but never downright negative. It’s right there in the word. Negative. Negative feedback is backed by negative energy and who needs that, right! We can apply this to ourselves as well, as a reminder of how we want to show up for the people in our lives. We all need a reminder sometimes. When we reflect on our own experiences it can also help us to see where we may have an opportunity for growth ourselves.
So, there are two sides to this. One is to be honest about whether you are doing your best in showing up for yourself in this life. The other is to be kind with yourself and know that your best is good enough. Look at your life. Your past experiences. What others have taught you about competition and self-worth. Have you picked up some less than helpful lessons through your school or family environment over the years? Let’s be honest, we all have.
Now, tell yourself it’s okay! You were always enough. Just because you didn’t come first in that one race or the boy you liked in high school chose your friend instead of you doesn’t mean you are not enough. When you do your best in life, this includes being your best. The best version of yourself. And, that is always enough.