Giving things your best shot

When I was young, I used to hate the – “Did you give it your best shot?” question. As a very competitive kid, I didn’t realize the point of this question. To me, it came down to whether I won or lost. And, if I lost, I clearly didn’t do enough.

I’ve grown to appreciate the wisdom in that question over the years. As you grow, take part in games with higher stakes and become conscious of the environment you are in, you realize just how much you don’t control. There are plenty of variables that can change your outcomes – the state of the market, corporate incentives, political games, chemistry, and, most of all, luck. There’s no point fretting about this stuff. It isn’t worth optimizing for filling our limited bandwidth with information about all of this.

I’ve come to believe that there is just one question that matters – how can I keep plugging away to make the impact I seek?

Plugging away. That’s what it all comes down to. Can we care enough to do it consistently? Can we be resilient to times when we don’t feel like doing it?

Good processes lead to good outcomes in the long run – I’ve definitely seen evidence of that in my life over the years. And, focusing on outcomes makes it hard to plug away as we end up wasting our energy on things we don’t control. I’ve seen evidence of that too.

The best part about paying attention to the process, however, is that there’s an important tipping point that changes everything. At some point during the process, you realize that you’ve done everything you possibly can and really couldn’t do any better. When that happens, I’ve found myself let go and completely accept the outcome.

Maybe that’s the real wisdom behind giving it your best shot.

When you do give the process your absolute best, the outcomes cease to matter. And, that, funnily enough, is an outcome worth working toward.