I hate the x-factor and american idol and similar programs for many, many reasons. One of them, is that you constantly hear people who are awful at singing or dancing saying they have ‘done their best’. This is clearly bullshit 99% of the time.
We seem to have developed an entire culture based around low expectations and under-achievement. Mediocrity is the new celebrity. Putting effort in is so last year. The reason we all love ‘reality tv stars’ is that they perpetuate this bullshit that you can have the trappings of success and fame without doing any work. No need to do your best any more…
There is a great scene in an episode of Star Trek: DS9, where worf fails to help his brother die in a ritualistic suicide because they are interrupted by some humans. Worfs brother confronts him over his failure to help him, and worf protests that they were interrupted by two (weaker) humans. His brothers response:
“Did you fight them? Did you threaten to kill them both if they interfered? And are you here now with a mevak dagger to slit my throat and bring me the death I deserve?”
In other words, this is the klingon way of saying “So? is that the best you could have done?”
I like that. I see it so often, in others, and also in myself. I don’t think I’ve “given it 100%” or “done my very best” very often in my life. I rowed like a maniac once in a thames river race, but despite being knackered at the race end, I didn’t actually collapse and need to be taken to hospital. I didn’t burst a blood vessel with effort. If the life of myself and the people closest to me had been at stake, I could have rowed much much harder.
Gratuitous Space Battles is a game I worked very very hard on, But I didn’t work 100 hours a week on it. I didn’t skip TV entirely for a year to do it, or sell everything I owned to invest it in the artwork. I didn’t scrap the entire game and re-do it and the slightest hint of dissastisfaction. I didn’t do my best.
One of the best things about knowing, accepting and really understanding what it means to do your best, and to know you have not done so, is it means you can definitely, 100% no doubt about it, do better next time. People who go through life saying “I gave it my best shot” are just scared of admitting that in all likelihood, they didn’t, and have themselves to blame.
Of course, it might not be worth it to you to go to the extreme, insane lengths of actually doing your very best in everything you do, but I think its a good policy to know the tradeofs you make, as you make them.
Yup, I’m in motivational speaking mood :D