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When is Your Best Good Enough?

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<a href="http://www.how-to-self.com/best-good-enough.php">When is Your Best Good Enough?</a>

Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is.
- Vince Lombardi

Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.
- Vince Lombardi

Did legendary football coach Vince Lombardi actually make both of the contradictory statements above? Let me ignore the facts, and instead imagine two scenes in which the two quotes fit the circumstances.

In the Locker Room BEFORE the Big Game

Do or do not, there is no try.
- Jedi Master Yoda in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Whatever it takes.
- Anonymous

Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.
- Vince Lombardi

Guys, this is a game we have to win. Defeat is not acceptable. Whatever it takes, win. After you have given 100%, give more. After you have given 200%, give more. Run faster, tackle harder, jump higher than you ever have before. And then go faster, harder, and higher yet.

In the Locker Room AFTER the Big Game

Do not look for approval
except for the consciousness of doing your best.
- Andrew Carnegie

Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is.
- Vince Lombardi

Guys, we lost, but you played a great game. Each of you gave 200%. This week, it is your job to forgive yourselves for losing; to thank yourselves for having played your best; to learn everything you can from having played this game; and to be ready next weekend to WIN!

When is Your Best Good Enough?

1. You tried your best, but you failed to create the result you wanted. Was that good enough? Yes, absolutely!

2. You are about to begin an important project. Is your best good enough? Not if the project is really important. Imagine that the project is getting your critically injured child to the hospital. Best efforts don't matter. Only results matter. These are the times when the Yoda admonition to, "Do or do not, there is no try," has its truest meaning.

What is the difference between #1 and #2?

#1 is about the past. As William Shakespeare said, "What's done is done," so thank yourself for doing your best, forgive yourself, avoid regret, learn some life lessons, and move on to the next battle.

#2 is about the present or future. You can always have more perseverance or work more creatively, if you are sufficiently motivated. There is time enough later to feel good about having done your best, regardless of the results.

The question of applying your best efforts, and not stopping until you succeed, only applies to important tasks. But which tasks are truly important?

Balancing Effort with Importance

Low Importance
High Effort
(quadrant 1)
High Importance
High Effort
(quadrant 2)
Low Importance
Low Effort
(quadrant 3)
High Importance
Low Effort
(quadrant 4)

 

Everything isn't important -- even if someone else claims that it is. If a task doesn't further your life purpose, it isn't important.

Does that mean that you shouldn't spend time on unimportant tasks? No, recreation is valuable, and some amount of distraction is a part of every life. The issues are balance, and the degree of effort expended.

Exercise: Write down everything you spent time on in the last three days. Mark next to each entry, the importance of the task, and the level of effort you expended.

Place a mark for each task on a copy of the table above. Notice the pattern of the marks. If most of the marks are in quadrant 2 and quadrant 3, your life is in good balance.

Marks in quadrant 1 indicate that you are wasting time on low priority activities, while marks in quadrant 4 show that some very important aspects of your life are not getting the quality time they deserve.

[If you are familiar with Stephen Covey's helpful table of importance versus urgency, note that the table above is making a related, but different point.]



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