All we can do is our best

Despite the promise of great reward, we often underperform when we become obsessed with desired outcomes.

Thinking big can be useful. Being ambitious can be helpful. Having a clear target can be energising. But over-identifying with a particular outcome can derail us faster than we might think.

One of the lessons I’ve learned from years of coaching is that superior performance comes more reliably when we focus on what I call ‘best effort’, rather than desired outcomes.

The essence of best effort is distilled into four elements:

  • Showing up as best we can, as regularly as we need to..
  • ..embracing the most important work that requires our attention…
  • alignment with our values,
  • and in a sustainable fashion

Of course, ‘best effort’ isn’t merely a matter of good intention. Or just about working hard.

In many ways, it’s a commitment to knowing what best effort means, to be willing to make sacrifices to allow our own full expression and to be compassionate enough to ourselves to allow us the prospect of long-term improvement.

And the best news of all is that it’s largely within our own control.


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

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