One of the first things I often hear out of someone’s mouth, after they attempt to do something and fail, is that they tried their best. It’s good to know that even if you couldn’t get what you wanted, you at least pushed yourself hard to succeed. But what exactly does it mean to try your best?
My version of trying your best seems to be different from how a lot of other people see it. I’ve seen many half-heartedly attempt to accomplish something only to proclaim proudly they had tried their best. But to me, trying your best means actually doing everything you possibly can do to make something happen.
Doing Your Best
There are going to be many instances when I make a solid attempt to succeed in something only to fall short. Perhaps my skills aren’t strong enough or my timing is off. There could be any number of reasons why I didn’t make it happen. My biggest concern is to ensure that not trying my hardest isn’t one of those reasons.
I hate the thought of failing at something simply because I didn’t do everything I could have possibly done to make it happen. There could be times when I really could have succeeded if only I’d truly tried my best. Not trying my best seems like a way to miss opportunities.
So I’ve developed a list of rules I hold myself to so I make sure I’m always trying my best.
1. Go 100% all in
The first rule of trying your best is to make sure you’re actually doing your best. It seems so simple, but this is one thing most people forget about. Trying your best implies you gave 100% effort. Anything below that number means you’re not doing all you can.
Anything less than 100% might be why you don’t succeed. If you’re only giving 90% or even as high as 95%, that extra 5-10% might just be the difference between reaching your goals and failure.
2. Try multiple times
Giving up after the first attempt seems pointless. It assumes that all your future attempts will also fail and that isn’t necessarily true.
It’s like a guy who asks out a girl once and gets rejected. So he concludes that it won’t work out with any other girl anywhere. That just doesn’t make any sense.
Trying your best requires multiple attempts, not just one. Rejection is a big part of the process for success in most fields. When it happens, it doesn’t mean you don’t make another attempt.
3. Remember to self-reflect
This rule follows closely with the second one. If you’re making multiple attempts to accomplish something, you don’t want to just keep trying the same things over and over again. To really get the most out of each attempt, you need to self-reflect.
Self-reflection can give you insight into potential areas of improvement so you can think of new strategies and angles to try next time.
After each failed attempt, you should be getting as much feedback as possible. What made it fail? Where did things go wrong? You can take all that information and improve your next attempt therefore increasing your likelihood of success.
4. Ask for advice
Getting advice from others on what to do is not only a good idea, but is often essential. If you have access to someone who has already succeeded in something you want to do, their advice can be gold.
They can provide insights you never thought about before and details you would normally miss. Perhaps they notice something about you or your approach that could be improved. Many times you might not even see it unless someone points it out to you.
5. Remain optimistic of success
Pessimism is harmful. After you start to think of all the bad things that will probably occur you start to find ways to make them true.
By remaining optimistic, you make sure that all those pessimistic thoughts don’t sabotage your efforts. The last thing you need when trying your best is for your own negative thoughts to get in the way.
6. If you fail, do it in a dignified manner
Even if you try your absolute hardest, you still might fail. That sad truth can make any setback an emotionally devastating experience.
The important thing to remember is to take that failure in a dignified manner. Don’t let failures consume you. Perhaps the reason you didn’t succeed has to do with a factor outside of your control. You may never know.
Of course the urge to get upset will be there. Think of all those American Idol contestants who complain loudly and angrily after being told their singing is terrible. Don’t be like that.
7. Always project confidence
No matter what you do, try to project as much confidence as you can. That even applies to situations where you’re totally freaked out and fear failure.
You can’t expect to get anywhere if you present yourself as someone who has no self-belief. Fake confidence if you have to. Faking confidence can eventually help you build up real confidence.
Everyone faces doubt, but you just can’t let it interfere with your performance. Once you let doubt in, you’ll start to make more mistakes and eventually failure starts to become inevitable.
Always Doing Your Best
Being able to say that I tried my best isn’t good enough. I want to know that I really did do my best. I don’t want to be satisfied knowing that I failed at something and I really didn’t give it my best attempt. I hate to think of all the things I’d miss out on if I really didn’t give it my best shot each and every time.
photo credit: Louish Pixel
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