Always Do Your Best
Well. We won’t find any question there. No sirree, not even a little bit of ambivalence in the instruction, “Always Do Your Best.” I have, in the past, been very uncomfortable with this idea; for me, doing my best was never about doing my best, but rather about meeting certain standards of best set by someone else. Why would I ever set about to meet that kind of agreement?
Of course, the problem wasn’t the agreement, but my definition of doing my best. Once I’d realized that, I felt even worse, because I am well aware that I’ve never lived up to my own expectations. I had so many plans; I was ready to accomplish so much. How can I possibly equate those goals with the events of my actual life? This cannot possibly be what Don Miguel Ruiz meant when he set Always do your best as a goal worth pursuing. What did he mean?
Then I hit on what I believe to be the answer to that question; that is, that doing my best has more to do with the moment than it does the long stretch of time encompassed by goals. But this answer seemed very selfish, almost petty: I’ll decide what is best for me, and I’ll decide when I’ve accomplished it. So childish, so selfish, so simple. This can’t be right.
And yet, that duty of mine to determine when I’m doing my best is exactly what this agreement is all about. The responsibility is mine, and no one else’s. I know, instinctively, when I have done my best, and when I have allowed myself to slide. The agreement I am making with myself is to strive for the best I can ever do, by doing the best I can do at any one time. Understanding this is a first step toward accepting myself for who I am; not who I wish I was, not who my parents wish I was. I recognize my duty to myself, to work and strive to be better, but also that duty to myself that involves admitting, and accepting, and celebrating that I am doing the best I can right now.