My parents used the say: We can’t ask more of you when you’re doing your best. It seems the right thing to say to a child. But is it? I got this insight only recent that doing your best actually gives you an excuse when you don’t succeed. Did you do your best? Ok. But could you have done more? Probably you could. Strangely when someone tells me that they did their best, I start to wonder. Did they? The problem with doing your best is that it stops you from looking closer at the problem. When you say: I did my best, but I didn’t find it, means you have given up. It gives you an excuse to start looking?
When the tailor amends your trousers and when going to get them you don't want to hear: I hope they fit now, I did my best. It probably gets him off the hook when they don’t fit for a 100%. It gives you the sign that he couldn't do better. Which is rubbish. If he would try again or worked a little longer on it, the trousers would fit perfectly.
Doing your best has somehow a weak attitude written all over. It presumes that you can’t do better, that you don’t have the guts to state that what you are doing or making is ok. Maybe not perfect but ok.
No doubt you did your best. Why would anyone deliberately not do their best? That would mean you have a poor mentality. Anyway doing your best is fine but it gets you off the hook. Real leaders take responsibility for their work and acknowledge that what they did could be insufficient. Saying doing your best is just another excuse for a possible mistake you made. It gets you off the hook in advance.
That’s harsh, isn’t it?
But the simple fact is, that it’s the truth. If you are willing to be open and look at it this way, I know you will see that there is something underlying when you say I did my best. It is a sign of playing small. It is a sign of playing safe. It is definitely not a sign of leadership.
As I mentioned before I recently got that insight. When you are still convinced saying I did my best is ok, I invite you again to look at it some more. Looking back at my previous career I always was improving things. You don’t improve when you say: I did my best. It invites you to keep it as it is. It invites you to move to the next thing. It invites you to stop thinking about other possibilities.
And these are the things you need when you want to make a living out of doing what you love or simple when you want to lead a happier life. You get to be willing to improve all the time. You get to be willing to think about other, better possibilities.
Real champions don’t say: We did our best. They admit they lost and say we’ll do better next time. They don’t feel like they did their best when they lose a game. They look for improvement or what went wrong. If they would say I did my best they would show up at practice the next day without training harder than they did before. Again. It’s all in your mind. All things contribute to your success. Even a seemingly innocent sentence as I did my best. So next time. Do your best and if it doesn’t work out.
Find a way to do it better.