16 Oct 2016
Are you doing what’s possible or your best? Not the best in the world, but your own best effort, provided what you have, while you have no better conditions to do better.
Years ago in design school, I worked on a project in class, and finished before everyone else. It looked good enough so I just used the rest of my time on something else (God knows how many other projects I had going on at the same time). Soon after, my teacher came to check on my work and said: “You are used to doing enough and thinking it’s ok. And that’s not ok.” That was so embarrassing to hear, but a lesson I still carry with me.
If we can do our best but somehow feel content with only what’s possible, we fall into a dangerous place called ‘mediocrity’. Mediocrity is lack of care. In Brazil we have a saying “I can be poor but I’m clean”. Some people might live in a shack, but always keep the all the floor swept clean. That’s care: they do their best while they cannot afford to do better.
It’s better not to start something if you won’t be able to do your best. The other day I watched an interesting interview on CBS with supermodel Gisele Bündchen. When Charlie Rose asks if she was the best model in the world because of her looks, the answer was: “Not at all. I think it’s because of my personality. Because I choose to do my best. (…) I’m not gonna be there if I can’t show up 100%”.
Of course, your best varies from day to day, depending on how you’re feeling. We all have been in that place where all we can produce are excuses. The “because of what they are paying me”, or “they provide no condition”. But degrading the action because of circumstances won’t improve anything, but giving your excellence, no matter what, will avoid you feeling guilty and being judged by anyone, including yourself. If you want the best the world has to offer, offer the world your best.