This may sound mean or unsympathetic, but one of my least favorite sayings is, "I gave my best." To me, this is an unacceptable crutch. I don't want to hear it.
My personal feeling is this: when the goal is to accomplish greatness, go where no one or no team has gone before. I wasn't asking for your best effort; your best is what you were capable of in the past. I was expecting you to figure it out, to try a thousand ways (and, if need be, another thousand ways), expecting you to innovate, lose sleep, get around it, find loopholes, research, and sweat like you never have before. Every extraordinary accomplishment, invention, or revolution was not a result of someone giving their best. Somehow that person or group found a way to do what no one else could do. They did the impossible. They did what no one had ever done before.
The real issue is this: it's not the effort that is in question at the moment or during the event, it's what you put in leading up to it. Whether you win or lose, get the sale, or ace the test, it is all determined by the effort given in preparing for the moment or event.
Every match is determined long before the contest begins. So the next time you fail, before you want to make yourself feel better by saying "I did my best," consider if you had given your best in the preparation. The actual effort given in the event has the least to do with the outcome.
Each of us has the ability to affect thousands of lives by providing genuine care for others, whether it is called customer service or human service. One of my favorite quotes is from author Marian Wright Edelman, who said, "Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time."
However, it is critical that each of us understands the purpose of why we were given this amazing gift of life, what we were put here for, and what we are to accomplish in the short time we have. You can't just deliver world-class service at work, it has to be something that is in you, in all areas of your life. It is who you are, it is the way you treat your family, neighbors, co-workers, customers, and strangers. And remember, there are no strangers, just friends you haven't met yet.
Over the past 10 years, I have had a personal purpose statement, a vision of what I want to accomplish in my lifetime, which has served me greatly through good times and some very tough times. I have had this vision posted on my bathroom mirror, it is in my wallet, and it's on my desk in my office. It reads: "Live an extraordinary life so countless others do as well."
I don't want to live an extraordinary life to have a bigger bank account, nicer car, house, and more toys. I know that if I live an extraordinary life, many others also will as a result. And if I do not find a way to live an extraordinary life, I will probably end up cheating thousands of people.
Undeveloped potential cheats those around us, those whom we touch, influence, and affect. It also deprives ourselves of joy, satisfaction, and opportunities. Living our life to its fullest potential is not an opportunity, it is our responsibility. It is an obligation to be the best version of ourselves we possibly can be, every day. Not just for us and how our life will benefit, but also for all the people depending on us: our spouse, children, friends, employees, co-workers, customers, and community.
Living an extraordinary life is living fully. I believe that we all have enormous potential inside each of us, and if there are parts of that potential we do not develop, we are cheating the rest of the world out of the contribution we could have made. So if I don't live fully, I don't just deny myself a lot of joy and satisfaction, I also deny the rest of the world the benefit of what I could have contributed.
Success is when you are firing on all eight cylinders: mentally, physically, emotionally, with family, socially, in your career, financially, and spiritually. All of those are part of you, and they all deserve your very best.
A personal purpose statement is not something you just write out, post, and expect automatic achievement from. You need to make yourself accountable - it needs to be measurable. For me, living an extraordinary life means there are so many things I need to be working on daily, personally, and professionally. It is everything from who I am spending my time with (are they positive or negative influences in my life?) to my health, exercise, and diet. It is not only living longer, it is the quality of life I want to have during my 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Any time I am feeling like I am not living an extraordinary life (and that is more times than I like to admit), I can look at my key drivers and see what I am neglecting - and hopefully get right back on track.
I invite you to live an extraordinary life so countless others will.
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