Best efforts

Best foot forward.

Do your best. The term gets bandied around a lot. “As long as you do your best.” But when was the last time you did? Have you ever honestly done your best?

I thought about this years ago when I took my driving test. In my early twenties, I was late to the wheel, much to the astonishment of every driver I have since met. All of whom evidently had their eyes on their 16th birthday not long after learning to walk. Anyway on that day I had my first car waiting on the drive ready to go. I was totally and utterly determined to pass. I was obsessed with only taking it once and went into a strange, trance like concentration of effort for this one off examination with an irrefutable reward. Get it right and within an hour I could be driving alone through the streets of London singing “I’m free as a bird” at pedestrian-scaring volume.

When I was completing the test I had a sense I had entered a state of hyper awareness. I was trying so hard that I felt I could literally have spotted a butterfly at a hundred metres. I was taking in countless vehicles in my periphery vision in case of any sudden movement that could jeopardise my chances.

I passed. Woo hoo. After the adrenaline had finally faded, I reflected back and couldn’t quite grasp the zone I was in, until I realised that it was simply the first case in my life where I had done my absolute best.

It’s a hard thing to quantify I know, as it’s more than just about the effort. It is about entering a new kingdom of focus where every cell and every thought in you is aligned towards a clear outcome. I sensed that if I could do that again in any arena in life I really could achieve anything. But of course it’s since been a fleeting thing. We fail to live up to a lot of our own expectations.

We truly never really know what we are capable of until either circumstances test us, or a goal becomes utterly all encompassing. Just imagine though. Imagine if you did your best often. Imagine that even when you were doing something mundane, like writing in a card, you took ages to think about it and wrote totally what you felt. Imagine if with your fitness campaign you did your absolute best every single time, from the moment you laced your shoes to the shower. Imagine if you had utter dedication to master a musical instrument. What if you did your absolute best to make a difference to everyone who crossed your path? How would it be different if in every single instance you tried to be the best parent you could be? The best listener. The best cook.

Imagine if every time you got home from work and you reconnected with your partner you remembered how good you can be. As you enter the home, however you feel and whatever the day, you lift your game and strive to be the best partner you can be in that moment. One ready to look deep into your vast collection of resources to make conversation magical, negativity minimal, to be silly and light and capable of turning the TV off and treating the time as though it could be your last night together, with every part of your internal dialogue aligned towards being 100% present. Phew! A tall order indeed.

It’s a shock to realise sometimes how far we have fallen into the pool of complacency and an equally powerful moment when we remember that we can all be benchmark authors of our own life script. The best is yet to come.

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