Recently, I was talking with my 9th grade son about a mountain bike race he had completed earlier in the weekend. We briefly talked about the course and the race and I asked if he was happy with his result. He answered, “Well, I tried my best.” Down deep, I knew he didn’t get the results he had wanted, but gave me the old “I tried my best” because it sounded good.
I asked him “Did you TRY your best or DO your best?” He looked confused, so I continued stating “you said you tried your best—how did you try?” Puzzled, he said, “I don’t know, I showed up and raced.” I asked him about what he had done to prepare for the race. He said “nothing.” Earlier in the year, he had learned from his coaches that race prep could really help maximize your results. Things like making sure your tires are inflated for the type of course, making sure your chain is properly tight and gears are oiled and shifting well so you don’t have mechanical issues on the course, and making sure you have proper tools to fix a flat tire.
During the race he had just finished, his chain fell of 4 times, tires were inflated to a lower pressure which matched the type of course he had raced the previous weekend but slowed him down on this particular course, and he caught a flat heading into the last quarter mile. Since he did not have the extra tube he was supposed to have with him, he had to walk his bike across the finish line.
I said, “There is a big difference between trying your best and doing your best. The only way you can DO your best is if you have done everything within your power to prepare for a successful completion of what you are trying to accomplish.” Usually that takes preparation, forethought, and planning. The same thing applies to the work world. Most people can’t expect to do well at work if they don’t prepare and plan every day. They will get to work late if they stay up watching movies and snooze their alarm too many times. They won’t successfully be able to accomplish key office tasks if they don’t pay attention to new memos and department process and procedure, and if they fall behind and don’t put in the extra time to get things done on time, they will lose customers—or their job.
DOING your best takes a lot of effort, planning, and follow through. If you do your best, there still is no guarantee of success. But, if you can say to yourself “I did everything I could to prepare for this,” then you have DONE your best.
I think after our talk, my son understood that even though he showed up, there were a lot of other things he could have done differently to maximize his chances of achieving the results he desired.
In 2018, don’t try your best or hope for the best….DO your best and good things will happen!