You did your best and other lies

Want to achieve more? Want to have greater success? Want to have more confidence?
I did my best and other lies

I’ll assume you are nodding yes. Or struggling not to.

If you want these things, you need to stop lying to yourself.

One of the pet phrases I believe hinders people’s growth is, “You did your best!” Or perhaps you’ve said it to yourself.

“I did my best.”

A variation on this is when I speak about some past failure, a time when I did not reach the goal I’d set, someone is bound to say..

“You did your best at the time.”

I understand the sentiment. People want to build you up. They want you to feel okay – that mistakes or missed goals are a “part of the process.”

Here is the problem with that phrase and sentiment.

In many case, I didn’t do my best. I did far less than my best. I, quite frankly, blew it!

And it doesn’t matter what the reason or excuse is. Perhaps I didn’t have the talent or I was too ambitious/far-reaching given my current resources, or I was lazy. Or I lost interest.

Whatever the case, there are times – many times – that our failures are caused by us failing to do our best or even close to our best.

When we “fail” to recognize this – when we gloss it over with pet-phrases like:

“I did the best I could at the time.”

or, when someone wishes to explain away my failure (or their failure) they offer…

“Everything happens for a reason!”

Yuck!! Yes.. there was a reason. The reason is often that I (and you) DID NOT do our best! Sorry.. you didn’t!

Personally, I hate the pandering comments that people use to try to make me feel better about those times when I did not do my best. It feels so dishonest. I’ve spoken to others who feel the same.

I don’t believe that such comments really help you feel better about yourself. In fact, I am certain of it. I’m certain it feels a sketchy and dishonest. A little bit slimy.

Now, of course,  you might be saying, “Umm.. thanks Matt. I feel lousy about myself or this failure and you don’t want others to encourage me?”

Au contraire my friend. I do want them to encourage you. I want you to encourage yourself. I want this blog to encourage you!

Part of recognizing that you DID NOT do your best when you, in fact, DID NOT do your best means you recognize clearly you could have done better. That you have the capacity to do better. That’s awesome! That means it is just a matter of resetting and executing!

Sometimes the truth is, what we need to hear the most is that we didn’t do our best and need to plan and execute better. The honesty is refreshing! It removes excuses and give a much clearer and honest perspective on what needs to be done!

Below are some steps for when you next blow it; when you next “fail!” at a given endeavor
[....and I can hear someone getting ready to quote Thomas Edison about not failing but finding 1,000 ways to NOT build a lightbulb.. Shhhh.. stop… I get it. But the truth is, he had lightbulbs that clearly failed and he knew it. He then went back, planned, executed, and improved! HE KNEW HE COULD DO BETTER!!!]

What to do when you didn’t do your best:

  1. Recognize it honestly as a sub-par performance

  2. Don’t excuse it.

  3. Determine why (lazy, poor planning, failed execution, etc.)

  4. Reset goal
    don’t disband your goal and do not give up!

  5. Plan for the new goal (quickly – read why action beats analysis)

  6. Execute better and more consistently.

The truth is, you probably still won’t do your best. It’s hard to sustain the energy to do your best every day at every moment. But doing your best occasionally and doing “well-enough”  or “really good” most of the time is probably going to result in great success!!

By the way, this blog entry was not my best on the subject but I did execute and get it done! And I believe it is good enough for human consumption!!

2 thoughts on “You did your best and other lies

  1. This is a great blog with a treasury of little gems of information. This recent blog is great and I agree with almost everything. We certainly do need to give ourselves a kick up the behind a lot of times, but, there are times when there is so much going on in our lives that we could not physically have done better and this perhaps should be considered so as not to be hard on ourselves when it is not appropriate.

    • Leza, understood. I tend to think that either spectrum is a challenge. Often, people don’t want to provide anything like a kick in the behind – to themselves or others. It is, of course, counter-productive to shut yourself down for any perceived failure. But for those who are highly driven, I err on the side of quickly and accurately assess your performance, create a plan, and put it into play.

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