“Are you enjoying the course?” I asked.
“Oh yes, just like any other course I’ve taken.” I could hear the pep in her tone.
“Do you like the material? Is it something that interests you?” Of course.
“Do you feel like you’re doing well?” Pause.
I felt the words slide out of my mouth without pre-thought: “Are you doing your best?”
Suddenly I remembered Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements. I’ve used the wisdom from his teachings for years.
The Fourth Agreement is simply: “Always do your best.”
It sounds so simple that we often neglect it. As children, we’ve heard adults tell us we need to do our best, but it was often interpreted as ‘The Best’.
Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us that our best is not always the same. Some days are better than others for us. Sometimes we expect to do as well in one area as another. My client thought a moment. “Well, no. I was trying to be as good in this new tool as I am in my regular practice, which I’ve been doing for 8 years. I’m just learning this. It’s all new for me.”
She was learning something new, and attached her high quality standard on it. She expected that a new skill was going to catch on for her overnight. She wanted to wave her magic wand and let everything happen at once. Did she do her best? Probably. However, she was pushing herself to do better than her best.
Sometimes we get so good at what we do that we expect to excel at everything. A world class ski champion wouldn’t suddenly decide to take up basketball and make the team any sooner than a basketball player would expect to take up skiing – especially if he’s from Florida.
Our best varies from skill to skill, day to day.
I suddenly remembered being frustrated at a job a few years ago. Though my interpersonal skills were fantastic, I was learning a new skill, new software, and new regulations. I got more and more stressed out as I fought myself day after day. Had I only thought about this simple concept, I would have freed myself from needless suffering.
Let me emphasize that we’re more in danger of attempting to do more than our best than of doing less than our best. In our highly competitive environment, we need to slow down.
“Always do your best”