Siobhán Cahalan | What if…we always do our Best?

“What is the disconnect between feeling connected and feeling disconnected?”

Our best. What comes to mind for you? What is ‘doing your best’?

Is it consistent? Does it vary? How does it vary? What are the reasons for variation? Do you have a gauge for different bests in different situations? Do you prioritize certain situations in which you are at your best? Or are all situations and environments given an equal shot at your best? Do you see your best as dependable perfectionism? Do you see it as depending on the day? How good is your best? Are there particular situations where you rarely try your best? Do you see your best as not good enough? 

Our best can be subjective, and it can vary. Perhaps in a professional setting our best can be unwavering and dependable and less so in a personal setting? Or vice versa? How do you measure your best? Do you know what it is in each situation? What is the benchmark? Is there one experience which stands out as the best of your best, and that is your benchmark? Or is it a case of being your best each day and not measuring it? 

Notice how it feels. How does doing your best feel? Are you feeling fully engaged? Connected? In the flow? Or struggling? Laboring? Frustrated? What is the disconnect between feeling connected and feeling disconnected? What is the gap? How can we move closer towards feeling connected and being in flow?

How does doing your best versus being ‘forced’ to do something feel? Is there more room for satisfaction when we try to do our best as opposed to doing something for someone else or for the sake of it?

When we say ‘I am doing my best’, ‘I did my best’, how sincere are we? Have those words the true original meaning of really and truly doing our best or has the meaning been diluted as a way to lessen our efforts?

Does your best look differently to you versus how the rest of the world sees it? How do others see your best? In a professional setting? In a personal setting?

In an organization, what is doing our best? What is the view of the Board? How does the Board recognize that the organization is doing its best? Has the Board verbalized this? How clear are the Boards expectations? Are the Boards expectations in line with the company vision? 

What are four ways we can do our Best?

We could know our best. What is doing my best?

We could ascertain expectations. What are the assumptions?

We could know our blocks. What is keeping me back?

We could know how. What skills can I enhance?

Wisdom Tool Number One: Know our Best

What is it? For me? What is my understanding of doing my best? How do I define it? What are the boundaries I have in place? Or is it a non-boundary entity? An organic fluid jelly?

Why do we want to do our best? What is your driver for seeking to always do your best? Respect and recognition? Better results? A sense of accomplishment? Self-fulfillment? A sense of satisfaction and self-worth?

Our best can vary depending on aspects such as our emotional state, the time of day, what’s happening around us, how physically well we are and external factors.

Does it mean to give maximum effort, skill, and dedication in any, and every, given task or situation? Does doing our best require effort? Giving our full energy and focus to accomplish a task at hand? Working diligently and persistently, even when faced with challenges or obstacles? Or do you think that doing our best is more akin to our natural and fluid ability to accomplish something where challenges don’t or rarely arise because we are in flow? Do we strive for excellence? Do we leave no room for regrets about the amount of effort we have put in? 

“Is it healthy to push beyond the genuine perfect point?”

How does ‘doing my best’ align with my responsibilities? With my personal accountability? Are my actions speaking louder than words? Sometimes we say to ourselves our best is not good enough and we spend a nice bit of time and energy beating ourselves up. How can we level set?

Does ‘doing my best’ mean that I push myself harder than is healthy for me? Or does it mean I do less than my abilities? Can ‘doing my best’ be at the perfect point of ‘doing my best’? No more and no less? Is it healthy to push beyond the genuine perfect point? If we continuously push beyond the genuine perfect point, we may reach burnout. If we continuously operate beneath our capabilities, we may feel disconnected and unfulfilled. If we go beyond, it can lead us to feel resentful and stressed. If we hover beneath, we may feel guilt and shame. What is the sweet spot?

In an organization, what is the view of the CEO with regards to doing their best? Does the CEO constantly feel like they are not doing their best due to unclear and moving targets? How can this be remedied to support a healthier working environment? In a team, is there a constant underlying stress that they are not doing their best? How can a more healthy and sustainable atmosphere prevail which supports reality and vision?

Wisdom Tool Number Two: Ascertain Expectations

Expectations. Mine? Yours? What are we trying to do? What is the reality of what we are trying to do? Do we know? Is it clearly defined? Is it a stand-alone project or involving many? Whose expectations are we living by? Our own? What are our own expectations? Are they incredibly ambitious? Am I trying to achieve something in one year that actually may take ten years to come to fruition? Do I know what I am expecting and the timeframe? Are the expectations coming from external? Has someone else defined what it is, how it is done and the timeline?

“How do expectations influence whether we do our best?”

Do I underpromise and over-deliver? Or overpromise and under-deliver? Promises? Where are assumptions made? How can we minimize assumptions? By asking more questions? By getting clear on our intent and the intention of others?

How do expectations influence whether we do our best? Or not? What is our motivator for what we are doing? How committed am I? How dedicated and invested am I? Will committing ourselves to do our best help maintain focus and overcome distractions?

In order to do our best, it’s helpful to know our role. What have we signed up for? What is expected of us? What behaviors are we counted on to exhibit?Are we clear on our role? Are others within the environment clear on our role? Where are assumptions made? By us? Or by them? Are expectations in writing or verbal? Or assumed? 

In an organization, how are expectations managed? How clear is everyone on their roles and responsibilities? How clear are timelines and goals? Where do assumptions catapult the desired outcome in the opposite direction? What is the pattern of missing targets? 

Wisdom Tool Number Three: Know our Blocks

Sometimes, we really genuinely try to do our best, but we feel blocked and unable. We can ask ourself: what is the block? Why am I trying so hard, and it feels so hard? Why am I trying so arduously yet not getting to the point where I feel I am doing my best? Where is the knot within the struggle? What is causing the knot? Is it one factor or made up of many elements? 

Is a long-held inner belief keeping me back? Is an aspect of the environment holding me back? Am I simply not interested in doing what I am trying to do? 

“Do I need to talk it through with someone to lighten the burden and to see it with fresh eyes?”

How can I ignite or reignite the enthusiasm for what is in front of me? How can I look at it in another way? Do I need to accept the non-ability to move forward and make a decision to let it go? Do I need a break from it, gather my resources, and find an ease when I get back to it? Do I need to talk it through with someone to lighten the burden and to see it with fresh eyes? Do I need to persevere? When I am faced with setbacks, can I gather the resilience to continue working towards success?

In an organization, what are the blocks? What and who are the usual suspects why things get railroaded and why direction of planned travel is obstructed?Is there a pattern? How can the needs of the organization be put first and foremost without a myriad of noisy agendas? 

Wisdom Tool Number Four: Know How

Sometimes, we can try to be our best at something yet somehow our best doesn’t seem good enough. We aren’t getting the results we want or need. We truly have given it our best shot, maybe for years, and the pieces don’t tie neatly together. In this instance, what are our options? What can we do? We can keep trying the same way where, one day, finally it will click. Or we can keep trying the same way and perhaps get the same results. We can evaluate the risk and reward. We can evaluate the risk of taking another path. We can evaluate taking a break from it. We can evaluate taking the focus from it and allow it to percolate in the background. 

“To go there, we may have to leave here?”

To do our best we need to utilize our knowledge, talents, and abilities in order to perform at our highest possible level in that moment. Is continuously honing and developing our skills crucial to achieve the best outcomes? Is doing our best a route to personal growth? If we view it as a pursuit of excellence, we can be motivated to expand our awareness and develop new insights always on the lookout for learnings and opportunities for growth and development.

It may be that the trying has been fueled by not-knowing. Perhaps we do not know how to do it? Perhaps we do not have the practical skills? Perhaps a deep-rooted belief is preventing us from moving forward? Perhaps the motivation is not there? Perhaps externals in the environment are genuinely preventing progress? Maybe something needs to be left behind in order to move forwards? To go there, we may have to leave here?

Becoming aware of ‘our best’ is the first step. How do we view it and is it variable or consistent? Flexible or dependable? Depending on the situation? Or depending on a committed inner resolve? Shining light on expectations and assumptions – ours and theirs can help to level-set the reach for our best. Understanding why performing at our best is trying can be explored via examining our blocks, beliefs and what is holding us back. And it may simply be that sometimes, we need to learn a new know-how to help us accept, that we are, that we are performing at our best.

“Good self-governance leads to good organizational governance.”

To further explore how you can access your innate wisdom to move forward doing your best, leading to enhanced self-governance and organizational governance, schedule a coaching conversation with Siobhán. 

Drop a note to to set something up.

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