Doing your best: a contemplation

Sometimes, a simple sentence can give rise to all kinds of thoughts. For example: “To be successful, I must do the best I can.” All sorts of questions and assumptions ensue. Can we measure “doing the best you can” and “success” in absolute or relative terms? What is the definition of “doing your best”? We instinctively understand what is meant by this phrase, but we can actually put it into words? And what are we doing our best for, which results do we have in mind? Is it about handling a task that we have taken upon ourselves in the best way possible? If so, when do we decide it’s good enough? When we have a good feeling about is? Or when we are (almost) exhausted trying? Maybe in the end it’s not so much about the task itself, but more about what the result says about us? Or do we merely use the idea of “doing your best” as a means to push ourselves to perform on a higher level than we usually do?

Besides, do we really need to do our best to be successful? Could ‘ok’ also be good enough? If not, why not? When something is easy for us to do because of our innate talents, are we doing our best at that moment? When do we feel we’ve done our best? And is this measured by our own standards or by someone else’s? How much energy do we put into the accompanying actions: are we mainly relaxed or is “doing your best” directly linked to (some) stress? Do we hear the thoughts in our head that voice the criticism from the outside world, or we are not really fazed by these thoughts?

And for whom are we doing our best? Is it for ourselves or mostly for someone else? Which values do we usually apply: those of the outside world/society or our own? Are we aware of the difference between these two? If we don’t do our best on a regular basis, to what extent do we feel an (irrational) fear that we sooner or later might drift to the other side: that of laziness?

Besides, what does “to be successful” mean? How is this measured? Is this being successful in society, or personal success? Do we make a distinction between these two? To what extent do we feel we are successful in our lives? And if so, why is that? What does this tell us  about our priorities in life? Can we acknowledge that success is primarily a relative and personal concept? And that, in reality, our idea of success sometimes has downsides that we tend to ignore?

In the quest for answers to the above questions, we are confronted with different types of balances, in all kinds of areas. The balance between our internal and the external world. Between perception and reality. Between our endeavor and the opportunities that are available. Between expectations and the end result. To better determine a certain balance, it is necessary to first become aware of the thought processes we use. It can be very refreshing to analyse our ingrained thoughts and actions from time to time and evaluate whether they still fit our present life.

We can often make life simpler, easier and more enjoyable. We already have a lot of knowledge in this field at our disposal. The challenge is to have our actions constructively AND regularly reflect this knowledge, and to stay open to new insights about ourselves.

Franklin Heilbron, blogger, and spiritual life coach lives and coaches in Amsterdam (The Netherlands). He loves life, loves people, hugely enjoys intelligent conversations, and can be deeply moved by beautiful sounds and ima

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