Life is made of wins and losses. Sometimes we succeed at fulfilling our obligations or bringing our dreams into reality, and sometimes we fail. What matters the most is not whether we win, but how we play this game of life. Ultimately, we cannot control outcomes. But we can control how much effort we put into our endeavors. We can control how much attention and love we put into what we do. We can control how much we persevere. It is giving our best that helps us have the most meaningful life possible, but only we know what our personal best is at any given moment. And at the end of the day, the person who consistently does his or her personal best is the one most likely to experience success and greatness.
Being the very best is not a matter of competitiveness, nor is it the result of luck. It is not about what other people are doing. Being the best is a personal commitment to show up fully in every situation. It means doing everything you can to bring your best self to every moment in life. Your personal best will vary widely depending on your age, health, energy level, skill level, and environment. But the essence is the same life caters to those willing to show up for it. Here are a few ways to bring your best self to the table of life.
Care for Your Body and Soul
The healthier you are, the more fully you will be able to show up in all your endeavors. It is hard to give your personal best when you are exhausted, undernourished, lonely, or stressed. The longer you go without caring for yourself, the harder it will live your full potential. In order to be able to participate at work, play, the creation of ideas, interacting with other people, or anything else, you need to have energy to give. You need to have a full cup from which to offer.
Being the very best is facilitated by a living a healthy lifestyle that includes nourishing food, plenty of exercise, body-mind spirit practices, restorative recreation, time in nature, and deep connections with loved ones and friends. Treat your body like the fine instrument that it is, and you will be much more likely to be able to be your very best. Nourish your soul, and it will require less effort to show up for yourself and for life.
People who exude their best-ness do not just barge into situations and flail about. They carefully observe every situation and environment. They use every available bit of information, from the actions of other people to internet research to their past experiences, to understand how to speak and act in each situation.
Learn how to receive advice and ideas from other people. Learn all that you can about everything. Observation may be your most useful tool in the quest to be your best. Use the information that you gather to plan your actions.
Learn from Mistakes and Failures
In very few instances do people get it right the first time. Everyone who is successful now, everyone who is able to be their best selves, most likely failed many times. Being your best is not about always succeeding or executing all of your actions perfectly. It is about getting up when you fall, and learning how to navigate better the next time.
Be willing to fail. Fear of failure cripples us, making us unwilling to give it our all for fear that if we actually do our very best and then do not succeed, we will look like fools. Release the fear of failure, and embrace failure as a teacher. Think of failure not as something to be avoided, but as an eventuality to be welcomed with gratitude and humility. Fail spectacularly. Fail with totality. Fail, and then pay attention to why you failed, and how you might do things differently the next time. This combination of great daring, surrender of perfectionism, and self-reflection will help you refine your thoughts, words, and actions until you are closer to your best self and help you be more effective in every situation.
Get Support and Mentoring
No one can do it alone. There may be some types of work that we do on our own, but for the most part life is a team sport. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, learn from people in your field. The great masters of every art, science, or sports genre had mentors, teachers, coaches, or other more experienced people to guide them. At a certain point every great artist of any field will innovate, but as you develop your capacity for greatness it is essential that you learn from the elders that have gone before you.
Also be willing to play with others. The most successful people know how and when to ask for help. Cultivate a network of truly supportive friends and colleagues for collaboration, brainstorming, resource sharing, and camaraderie.
One of the many things that separates a master from a poser is curiosity. If we think we already know everything about ourselves, our work, our friends, and our lives, then we put ourselves in rigid boxes that inhibit evolution. But if we approach each moment with beginners mind, with a willingness to be surprised by life and ourselves, we allow the possibility for greatness.
Be curious about everything especially the things you think you already know. Explore seemingly mundane aspects of life with the wonder of a child. Study concepts and skills that are outside of your field to expand your horizons. Learn from everything you see, hear, and experience. Approach all situations with a great big I dont know, and let your curiosity help you meet each moment with full presence.
Excellence is a habit, and new habits require consistency over a long time to form.
No one is the best at something right away, or even after the tenth or hundredth attempt. You must be willing to work through your resistance and challenges, your inertia and fear, until there is only the clarity of what is needed to thrive in each moment.
Commitment is not something you find once and then never think about again. Commitment is showing up, day after day, bringing your best self to every person, situation, and moment of life. It is not so much about committing to other people, though relationships and teams are healthiest when everyone involved is deeply committed to the whole. But this is a commitment to self, a commitment to showing up for life as your very best in each moment.
Follow Your Passion
Part of greatness is identifying and following your bliss. Discovering what you truly love to do in this life, and funneling as much of your time and energy as possible into that. Doing what you love ensures that you will have the energy and motivation necessary to put in the hours to achieve excellence. Researchers in the 1940s discovered that to become a master at any sort of complex activity, a person has to put in at least 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. But this practice has to be motivated by pure passion to be truly effective. Following your passion will give you energy and creativity that might not be accessible without that deep love for what you are doing.
Bring Your Passion Into Everything
Although we can choose to focus a great deal of our time on things we love, most of us cannot spend all of our time engaged in our passions. We must tend to our bodies and homes, and some of us must work in fields that are not ideal for us. But we can bring our passion and greatness into everything we do. We can turn the seemingly mundane aspects of life into opportunities for excellence. We can apply our creativity and curiosity to the minutiae, infusing life into the day-to-day activities. This helps us remain connected to our passionate centers, whatever we might happen to be doing.
Pay Attention to the Details
Life is in the details. We can have all the grand plans we want, but if we dont take small steps every day, nothing will happen. Concentrating on the task at hand is crucial especially if you are trying something for the first time. Being able to drown out external distractions as well as internal ones, allows you to center your attention at what you are doing thus making it easier to concentrate.
Do It Anyway
Being your best means showing up with your best game, no matter what resistance you feel. On the journey to become truly great you will probably face fear, inertia, and fatigue. The hardest part of being ones best is continuing to show up as the best self possible, even through external challenges and internal resistance. Perseverance is what separates mediocrity from greatness. There will probably be days when you just do not want to give your best, when you do not want to show up at all. Do it anyway. Greatness requires great courage, an indomitable sense of purpose, and ceaseless persistence.
Being your very best is an ongoing journey. You are not suddenly going to become your best self one day and then float along on your greatness. Being your best means showing up every day, with curiosity, attentiveness, passion, persistence, and a willingness to evolve. It means connecting with and living your personal best all the time, whatever your condition or environment on any given day. It means getting help, learning all that you can from everyone and everything, and choosing again and again to be the best you can be in every moment.