Monday, May 24, 2010

THE PROBLEM WITH "I'LL DO MY BEST."


I am always curious to see what the NBA comes up in each years television ads for the playoffs.

Last year it was using the song "Amazing," by Kanye West. This year they didn't stray far off Kanye by auto-tuning players using their famous press conference and interview cliches' and making it into an auto-tuned song. There's nothing like hearing an auto-tuned Stan Van Gundy mixed with a little Kobe and Magic.

One of the most famous cliches in sports is wrapped in the idea of "doing my best." You here it all the time, "I'm doing the best I can to...", or "all I can do is my best." But there is one problem in this feel good, I'm a team player, statement:

"Doing your best" is a cop-out. It's an excuse. It is a failure to commit to excellence. It shows lack of courage to commit to a real challenge.

Harsh...yes, but if you really think about every time you've said, "I'm just doing my best," it's usually because you are sugar-coating a poor performance in some area of your life.

Uhhhggg....There's nothing like being convicted by your own writing. But I know that I do this. I know that I say, "I'm doing my best in different areas of my life." But the truth of the matter is; I'm lying to myself and the people I'm telling it too.

Here's a startling revelation: If you're doing your best, you don't have to say that you're doing your best.

Telling people you're doing your best is a lot like telling people about how much you hustled during a game. How many times have you seen a guy sit in front of the cameras and say: "I dove out of bounds twice into the crowd, to save a loose ball. I jumped on every loose ball, I got 20 rebounds, I'm just doing my best out there."

Never....

Because when you give you're best, It's obvious. You may not be the highest scorer, and no one may even talk about your effort, but your effort is obvious. It is your effort in the little things. Those things that only a certain percentage of the people in this world actually will do, that end up paying high dividend in the big things.

The other problem with, "I'll do my best," is that it lacks responsibility. Instead of personally committing to what you can do better as a person to develop yourself to enhance your team, this pretty lyric is used to deem you a good team player and kick all responsibility to the side.

However, the first thing that each of us need to do is figure out what we must do to help ourselves. A winning team is never full of team members who do not take personal responsibility for winning. A winning team is full of individuals who know their role well, and work continuously on improving their specific individual skills to enhance the performance of the team.

Each member of a team needs to have their own individual goals that make them better at who they are and what they do. As each team member strives to become better at these particular things, as they continually set high goals and achieve them, the team will become better and winning will become less of a "did our best" effort, to just consistently finding "W's" in the win column.

Here are a couple of suggestions for this week to help you to stop "doing your best," and to start getting things done:

1) Plan, Reflect, and Record Your Insights: In the book, Discover Your Genius, by Michael L. Gelb, he writes, "In a classic study of mental traits of genius, Catherine Cox examined 300 of history's greatest minds. She found that geniuses in every field--from painting, literature, and music, to science, the military, and politics, tended to have certain common characteristics. Most notably, she discovered that geniuses enjoy recording their insights, observations, feelings, and poems and questions in personal notebooks or through letters to friends and family."

This is taking, "writing your goals down," a step farther. We all have heard that you should write down your goals, but we also need to reflect on them. We need to think about what worked and what didn't. As an athlete in the development of your skills, you can write down what worked and what didn't in practice, the insights you took from it, and how you can continually fine tune and improve your game.

2) 5 Things a Day: You may or may not have heard of the old five swings a day idea. This says that if you have a tree and an axe and you swing the axe five times per day, eventually the tree is going to fall. There are generally three to five things that if you do them each day, will eventually pay you great dividends. For example, I understand that if I spend time each day, thinking "outside the box," reading, writing, watching, or giving inspirational material, and working on my creative ideas, I reap big dividends. Because I am an "outside of the box" thinker, have the heart of a coach, and love to create, doing these three things on a daily basis pay off for me more than anything else I do. You may notice I only have three. But surely you can have up to, but probably not more than five.

3) Get a Coach: Whatever you want to be great at you need someone who A) has been to the place or at least knows how to get to the place you want to go and B) will hold you accountable to the highest degree. Both A and B are much more difficult to make happen on your own, if not impossible. If you look at most people who are successful at what they do, it is because they have been mentored, coached, and taken their by the hands of someone else, a great coach.

Let's stop "doing our best," and start getting things done. Have a great week!