Leadership Thought #361 – Do Your Best

May 30, 2012

Do You Do Your Best or Just Enough to Get By? — Frank Sonnenberg

One of the most interesting things I find about high performing people is that they are usually harder on themselves than anyone else could be.  There are some exceptions, but this is rarer than you think.  For example, some leaders just exude self-confidence. Usually something drives an individual to excel.  You hope the motivation is a positive one; however, this isn’t always the case.  I still remember one of my top clients saying several years ago that fear of failure is a good motivator, and he didn’t know what he would do if ever actually embraced and enjoyed his success.  I found this to be sad and he could not understand why.

All we can do in life is our best.  This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect because no one ever is.  Moreover, working harder isn’t always the answer.  Sometimes if you are not careful, you will push yourself to the point of diminishing returns and even worse burnout.  You also need to be careful about getting too caught up with comparing yourself with the actions of others.  They have their own set of issues to deal with and we often inflate the capabilities of our competition.

The following questions will help you assess whether you are doing your best:

  • Why are you doing what you are doing?
  • Are you passionate about the result?
  • Do you know what success and high performance look like? If so, based on what?
  • Are you tracking your progress/performance on a consistent basis?  If yes, what are the trends?
  • What is pushing you to excel?
  • Is the primary motivation positive or negative?
  • How does this make you feel about yourself and your business?
  • Is it worth the effort?
  • At the end of the day, do you tend to feel good about what you’ve personally accomplished? If not, why?
  • What needs to change in your professional or personal life?
  • Would working harder really have made any difference in the long run?
  • Are the personal tradeoffs required for your extra effort worth it?
  • Are you focusing on “doing the right things” or “doing things right?”
  • Are you “planning your work and working your plan” or simply making it up as you go along?
  • Are you consistently operating at your “highest and best use” as a leader or often distracted by less meaningful tasks?
  • Do you feel competent and capable in your role and what you are doing? If not, why, and what are you doing about this?
  • Do you procrastinate when you don’t want to do something important, or do you do it and put it behind you as quickly as possible?
  • Are you surrounding yourself with the right people with the right motivations committed to a common goal?
  • Are all your key people in agreement on what success looks like?
  • Are you proud of your accomplishments or do you always feel like you are falling short? If the latter, why and based on what?
  • Are you the only person in your organization who feels this way?

Leadership requires too much energy and business too much risk not to be worth the effort.  If you are regularly not enjoying your work or consistently feel like you are underperforming, then find something else to do.  We all have the potential to be great at something.  Life is too short for you to feel like you are not tapping into your true talents or performing at a level that is beneath your best.  Remember to be the best YOU that you can be and then enjoy it!