So right now we are once again in cheerleading nationals practices. This means two practices a day of throwing a two and a half minute routine that requires frequent bursts of maximal effort. It is hard, the skills are advanced, and mistakes are made which cause people to fall on to one another or simply to the floor. All of this effort is made to simply perform the routine once or twice in front of judges. When this happens they will get scored and place accordingly to where they should among their peers. Some folks will be happy, some will be sad, but I’m confident that a number of folks will think they did their best, but really didn’t.
What is your Best?
When I was younger my parents would ask me if “I tried my best” on something after it was done. This could be something that I was successful with or unsuccessful with, but the question was the same: did you do your best? At that point I would always say that I had, but as I got older, I started to realize that what I did was nowhere near my best. I will note that yes I tried, but I had more to give.
It was early May of 2007 and I was competing in my second powerlifting meet. I spent the last two months dieting down to make weight at less than 198lbs from weighing 215, and I was going to take a shot at the junior Illinois USAPL state record in the deadlift. I had never missed a workout and ate on a clock to make weight. I did everything right with my prep and then had a solid meet on the squat and bench press making sure that I saved some energy for the deadlift.
I opened with a smooth fast 530 and then hit a second of 585 which was also smooth and fast. I was ready and fired up. I got to my third attempt and called for 633. This would be a PR attempt for myself, I went up to that bar and pulled with all I had. The bar broke slowly from the ground and the knurling grinded in to my hands. As I started to slowly inch it up I could feel my body shaking which only got worse once I managed to get the bar past my knees. The pressure was massive in my body as I broke blood vessels in my upper body and even in my eyes. After what felt like eternity I locked out the bar and then was given the down signal by the judges. At this point I let gravity do its work and take the bar back to the ground with my hands on it. I let go of the bar and turned to look at the judging lights. One white and two red lights flashed in front of my eyes. My lift was turned down and didn’t count.
Initially I was a bit upset, but then I just walked outside of the gymnasium into the open hot afternoon in Illinois and let the sun beat down on my skin. I stood there with my arms out wide, looked up, and smiled. I took a deep breath and slowly let it out, and I was happy. I committed my soul to that pull. I put everything that I had into not just that deadlift, but the entire prep leading up to it. I pulled that bar regardless of what the judges said. I did that lift for me. This taught me a whole new world about what does “doing your best” really mean. This isn’t just showing up, this isn’t just practicing a bit. This is truly deliberate hard work in every facet of your life towards the goal. This is doing your best, and really made me realize that I wasn’t in fact often in my life giving my best. This is what I want to get in to.
How much effort did you really use?
When you are looking at what is really your best, did you really do everything you could? Did you make sure that you leveraged everything that you could to enhance your performance? When you were at practice did you really do everything that you could to get better? Did you give every drill all of your effort and attention? Did you do everything you could outside of practice to get better? These are all self-assessment questions but I want to pose them as a way to improve our thinking
What can you do to make it to the next level?
In order to get more out of your work, practice, or education you need to make sure that you truly are focused on the task at hand. That you aren’t being distracted by something else keeping you from the task at hand. This means that you not only need to be deliberately practicing, but doing additional practice and work to develop these skills.
When it comes to outside of practice, now we have our nutrition and sleep that will affect how fast we recover not just physically, but also mentally. This is getting enough sleep not just the night before the competition but every night. This means not just eating one healthy meal, but eating right day in and day out for months at a time. This means not going out and partying so hard that you undo some of your hard fought work. You can lose your mind looking for little bits of improvement, but take a moment every once in a while to really see if you are doing everything you can to be the best that you can be.
Doing your best is not easy. Saying that you did your best is easy. It can be hard, but think about all of the ways that you could be doing better. What are you not taking care of that can make a big difference in your success in life? Can you search out someone to make you better? Can you take care of elements outside of you goal to set yourself up for success? When you are working on your skills are you 100% present giving your best effort every moment? These are the many hard questions that you need to ask yourself to truly be doing the best that you are capable of, and I hope that you truly discover and do your best. Thanks for reading this and have a great day.