Friday, July 3, 2009

Learning What Your Best Is

"Always do your best."

It is the fourth agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book and it's a principle that most people overthink. Don Miguel Ruiz helps to eliminate the complication by saying the following:

"Regardless of the quality, keep doing your best- no more and no less than your best. If you try too hard to do more than your best, you will spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best will not be enough. When you overdo, you deplete your body and go against yourself and it will take you longer to accomplish your goals. But if you do less than your best, you subject yourself to frustrations, self-judgment, guilt and regrets."

Doing your best, in all cases, requires 3 things:
1- You give your all to what you do
2- You understand that mastery comes with practice
3- You can appreciate your results and view them within the context of your present situation

1- You give your all to what you do
A divided mind will not produce fabulous results. Learning how to be present in any and all situations is key. Being present means you are focused on what you're doing. Whether it's washing the dishes, driving a car or writing a book, your mind is fixed on completing the task at hand to the best of your ability. Add to that your energy and passion. Not only are you focused on what you're doing but you're excited in the process of doing it. You know how much benefit will come from this activity (for yourself and others) and you can't wait to hit completion and share it with the world. That's called giving your all.

2- You understand that mastery comes with practice.
Rome wasn't built in a day. A big part of doing your best comes in acknowledging that your best is and will get better with practice. The "best" is subject to where you are in your life and since where you are is always changing so too will your best. Cultivating the best begins with saying to yourself "There's always more to learn and I'm open and willing to change." The moment you start saying "I don't need to learn that. I got it", you've shut yourself off from new levels of success. Doing your best is a process of lifelong learning and continuous improvement.

3- You can appreciate your results and view them within the context of your present situation
In the quest for success, don't dismiss your current results. Every day contains success within it. Celebrate your successes. Savor your wins. Bask in your growth. Focusing too much on getting to the "next" level keeps you out of the present moment and the present moment is where your success is created.

"But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next."
- Don Miguel Ruiz

It's also important to cut yourself some slack in what you define as your "best." Your "best" will be different when you are sick versus vell, when you're single living alone versus married with three children under the age of 5, at age 5 versus 25 versus 45. Do not set up unrealistic expectations that, in your current situation, you cannot achieve. You will be exhausted, frustrated, and, at the end of the day, less productive than if you'd set up realistic goals.

A slower pace is by no means a less successful pace. All roads, when accompanied by passion, planning and persistence, lead to success. Your best is your best. Your job is to create, cultivate, and celebrate your best by living and giving IN the present moment.

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