Doing your best means giving your best effort with the best possible attitude, recognizing that both are always within your control. Doing your best means working hard and smart, while living a balanced life. Working hard does not mean over-working to the neglect of one’s health, family and other higher priorities. Working hard does mean that, for brief seasons, life balance may be impossible to maintain, but we are deeply committed to restoring it as soon as possible.
Much of what I’ve said to our five children during my 39 years of fatherhood has fallen upon deaf and distracted ears. There is one thing, however, that to this day each of them can recite at gunpoint. I can see them now with their eyeballs rolling back into their heads whenever I would ask them my favorite question, “What are the only two things that you can always control in life?” They’d bemoan their reply (think Eeyore to Pooh), “Yeah Dad, we know…effort and attitude.” “That’s right, kids!” I’d say. “Everything else is partially or completely out of your control.”
I’ve thought about my 1-2 effort-attitude punch a great deal over nearly four decades now. It may be slightly overstated, but not by much. I like it for two primary reasons. First, it takes away any excuses for not giving your best effort while having the best possible attitude. It’s simply unacceptable to do otherwise, because both are completely in your control. Second, it helps you stay laser-focused on that which you can control, so you don’t have time or energy to worry about the myriad of things you can’t.