Today’s post is inspired by a recent conversation I had with a very good friend of mine, Niki. The two of us were talking one night about a variety of topics and at some point during our conversation the phrase “I’m going to do my best,” came up. I mentioned that I hated this phrase and Niki commented that while in probably most cases it was not worth getting mad about, as long as by someone’s “best” they were allowing themselves room for failure, then it really was a pernicious saying.
We were really on to something there. Something Sinister.
I despise “the best.” And unlike Niki who feels this way some of the time, as for me I I feel this way all the time. Let’s break the saying down. What else could it possibly mean? It’s short hand for I am going to try, but I might fail, but if I do then it is alright because I did “my best.”
Don’t say these words. If you are going to try something, go actually try. And if you fail, well then you fail. But failure is not what you want. Sure, you are going to fail. I fail, you fail, we all fail. But this is not something to actively pursue. We are trying to accomplish things, failure is the enemy. Do not forget that.
And do not let failure be okay. Yes, it is going to happen, but this does not mean it should be a normalized outcome. This is what the phrase “I am going to do my best,” plants inside of our psyches. It gets us accustomed to not having to succeed.
“Oh, its alright if I fail because I did our best.”
The best just might not be good enough. And results really do matter! We don’t get to turn back time and restart. Life is not a video game. What good is “your best” if you blew that job interview, got rejected by your love interest, and lost the game? Not so great is it.
So start working to get results. Get your head in the correct mindset. Now, just because you put yourself in the correct frame of mind does not mean that things are going to always work out in your favor, but they sure as hell will likely work out better for you than if from the outset you are entertaining the possibility of failure.
Believing in yourself is what will lead you to attempt to accomplish goals. If you do not have faith you can rest assured that you won’t achieve anything. And again as I stated earlier, what is saddest here is that this saying makes that okay.
As far as I know, I only get one my life and I think you all only get one as well. So make the most of it. Are you going to sit back and just waste away this precious time you were granted to accept that failure was alright? Or are you going to go for it and actually work to accomplish something?
But, I see. That’s it. People love to say that they will do “their best” because it gives them a way out. Lots of people out there tried and failed. So they don’t want to try again. This time around they say will try “their best” instead of fully committing to something. This gives them and their pride a way out for when they fail.
People, be brave. Do not just sit back and not try. What do you think I do every day on my twitch stream? Do I try my best? No, I actually try. And if I fail, well than I fail. But I can tell you this, if I don’t make it on twitch I will accept that I failed. I won’t say that “I tried my best,” I will just admit that I failed. But if I make it, then I will own the fact that I succeeded. You see, this goes both ways. Learn how to accept both winning and losing, not this bizarro universe of today where winning is something that you should not be proud of and losing something that didn’t really happen because you tried “your best.”
Here is a little story from my past. When I was younger I played basketball at a local park in its recreational league. I played in this league for many years, all the way until I was 16, from which then on the kids aged out. When I was young I was a good player, especially when it came to shooting: this was always my forte. But when I hit middle school it became tough. I was short, scrawny, and the other kids were tall and further they were hitting puberty and I wasn’t. I believed that I was totally screwed and that there was no way for me to score. I just wasn’t tall enough, I just wasn’t big enough, and I just wasn’t man enough.
I continued playing for years as I loved the sport, but I rarely took shots, and I almost always passed the ball to someone else. Consequently my teammates didn’t give me the ball too often as I did not do much with it. They wanted to win too, and I did not help us as a team achieve that. And this was all while being the coach’s son. Yes, my dad was the coach, and I was the exact opposite of the typical coach’s son: you know, the super-star first round draft-pick prodigy player. I was just little old me and I had little to no impact in most games. I even went a few seasons without ever scoring a basket.
But my Dad always believed in me, and he knew that I could shoot. And I don’t know what changed, but in my last year of the recreational league I started taking shots. And I started draining them.
Three point buckets.
Multiple times in a a game too. I remember one game in particular when I drained my third three point shot of the night and the whole place went wild. Even from the crowd on the opposing team. I guess it was fun for everyone to watch this little kid just drain missiles from 30-35 feet plus out: they were long shots. And boy I tell you, when I sank them and the crowd went nuts, it felt fantastic. I wasn’t used to making the crowd go wild, but I sure as hell loved it.
After that big game, the next day at school I had a friend, Matt, come up to me and he said something like,
“What the hell dude! Since when have you been that good?! And why were we never on a team together?!”
I thought about that. Honestly my shot was that good since ever, but I lacked the confidence to actually try and shoot the ball, so I never made any shots and everyone thought I wasn’t any good. But believing in myself is really what changed it all. And I was still short, still scrawny, and I still hadn’t hit puberty either. But that didn’t matter this time around. I said fuck that to doing “my best” and I started risking it taking the shots. And some missed, but plenty of other ones started landing.
I have always been so proud of that season, chiefly because it was my last chance to prove that I could play ball and I did. I am so happy looking back knowing that I ended on a good note, and not on a bad note like the years before where I had resigned myself to defeat. Man, it would not be fun writing this post now recalling how I ended my basketball career as a scoreless loser who never even tried. Thankfully that is not the case, and only so because I tried.
So let that be the lesson. Do you want to fail? Or do you want to succeed? If you want the latter (and I hope you do) start getting yourself in the correct mental state. Doing this begins with removing bad phrases from your vocabulary. What you say effects how you live. So get rid of bad the bad language. And I don’t mean profanity. I’m talking about real bad language. The kind of language that leads you to to the possibility of failure and to that of normalizing it: phrases like “do your best.” This is seriously profane language. Cut this shit out. Immediately.
So now you all know. No longer will you speak that you will do “your best.”
You will simply do it.