“Be The Best – At Everything You Do”
Every single time I’ve said this to someone, they come back with an argument:
“But how can I be the best in the world at everything? Or even anything?”
I then explain and clarify:
“I never said ‘best in the world’. I only said ‘be the best’.“
So, what’s the difference?
One is comparing yourself with everyone else in your universe, and engaging in a futile struggle to be ‘better’ than them. The other is only looking within at yourself – and asking “Did I give it my all? Could I have done more?”
Look, in the ultimate analysis, there is only so much you, me, or anybody else can do. We all come with our built-in limitations, restrictions and boundaries. No matter how eager and determined he is, a man without legs cannot win the world high jump competition, and a lady without eyesight can’t shoot brilliant world-class photographs.
But d’you know what matters? Not that you do better than everyone else, but that you do as best as YOU can. And that’s within reach of every single one of us.
How many times has this happened to you before?
You hardly prepare for a test, but score the highest in your class – because the others studied even less than you.
You delivered a barely adequate project, but were warmly praised by the boss – because the others were not even on schedule.
You uploaded a bare-bones draft of your new ebook, spelling and grammar mistakes galore, just because you were too bored to correct and edit it – and anyway made a barrel-load of sales.
We have all experienced situations where simply being “good enough is good enough”.
And, sadly, many of us have settled for that norm.
Why strive for excellence when ‘barely good’ is more than sufficient? Children adopt this paradigm at school. Adults at work. And many of us do even around the house, or in our family lives.
Yet, in an over-crowded marketplace where everyone is screaming for attention and an audience, there is one thing that overwhelms and dominates – and that is EXCELLENCE.
Being the best is what you can take to the bank!
When you walk into a bookstore, which books do you see in the front display rack? Nine out of ten titles will be written by best-selling authors, names that you are already familiar with, and whose other books you have probably read before.
On the poster of a blockbuster movie (or when the opening credits play), who gets top billing? The famous superstar whom audiences love and rave about.
It’s the same everywhere. Authority charms crowds.
And broadly speaking, the authority these people wield comes from being the best in their field. You know James Patterson or Stephen King as the best novelists in their genre. You know Johnny Depp or George Clooney as the best Hollywood actors. You know Venus Williams and Roger Federer as top tennis stars. You know Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking as brilliant scientists.
These are folks who are at the top of their game. The very best.
And that’s a good reason to strive to be the best.
But… but… but didn’t we just talk about how hard it is to be the best at anything? So how can you strive to be the best at whatever you do?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
Habits are tough things to establish – or change. It takes repetitive and intentional action. If you want to create a habit of waking up earlier in the morning and reading for an hour, then you must intentionally set your alarm for an hour sooner, act when it goes off, force yourself out of bed, and sit down with a book. And you must do this repeatedly, over and over again – until it becomes almost automatic.
That, in essence, is also how you become the very best at anything you do.
You start by intentionally deciding to give it your very best. You follow up on that intention by making sure you put the right kind of focus, effort and energy into it. And you remain consistent with that attitude for as long as it takes for it to become a habit.
And then, suddenly, you’ll discover that “doing your best” has become a habit! A part of YOU.
Let’s face it. We’re never going to be excellent or top-class or brilliant at everything. Even Einstein couldn’t find his way to the neighborhood grocery store! (He said, famously, “I don’t clutter up my mind with trivia!”)
Anyway, we don’t need to be the best at everything – just the things that really matter. And those will vary from you to me to someone else.
There are two keys to making sure that you do your best at what counts or matters to you:
The thing you decide to give your best to must be within your capacity to carry out. If you read an inspiring tale about heroes who conquered Mt.Everest, and state with passion and fire that you are going to attempt to scale the world’s highest peak too – but you have never even tried trekking up that tiny hill in your town – well, let’s just say you’ve got a long, hard climb ahead of you!
But if it’s something you already do, or are capable of doing, and you just haven’t thought about putting in your very best effort to execute flawlessly, then that’s an ideal place to begin. Intent. Practice. And soon, it becomes a habit.
Pick an area or activity or niche that you can dominate by focusing on being the best, and you could soon establish a beach-head that no competitor can storm. Your effort to do YOUR best will end up making you THE BEST of all!
The other factor that makes it easier for you to do your best is to have passion for the job. Ask a fan of World War history if they want a copy of Winston Churchill’s six volume account of WW2 (4,736 pages!) – and they’ll jump at your offer! That’s passion at play.
The enormity of the task, the challenge of getting it done, the hardships along the way – everything fades away into the darkness when the brilliant light of passion is shone upon it.
Bringing passion to whatever you do is a guaranteed way to make sure that you give it your best shot. So you can select only those things you’re passionate about – or you can become passionate about anything you want to be the best at. Either way works.
Make this a simple challenge you set yourself for this week. Pick a task. Anything. It should meet the two conditions – you should be able to do it, and it should be something you’re passionate about.
Then set out with the conscious intention of putting your best into it. Practice it over and over again, until it becomes second nature. Then come back and tell me how it feels to be the best!
Remember, authority stems from being the best at what you do.
And excellence is a habit.
Be the best you can – always!