If you have ever done a P90X workout, you probably remember Tony Horton saying “Do your best and forget the rest.” It is one of his mantras intended to empower and get everyone to try each activity. You will never know all that you can achieve without making an attempt. If you continue to do your best over a period of time, your best should improve. This is also a helpful mantra for those who get caught up in perfectionism and competition. It is a reminder to stay focused on the task at hand, which will lead you to your goal, and ignore all the other variables and distractions.
Perhaps a personal example will make things more clear. Rehabbing from hip surgery was both a physical and mental challenge for me. If I had difficulty with an exercise or felt I was not progressing quickly enough, I could have easily focused on the what ifs or the shoulds. I could have worked myself up into a frenzy of all the negative possibilities, when all that I could control were the activities at hand and sticking to my exercise regimen. I had to forget the fact that the doctor had predicted a faster recovery. I had to let go of the fact that the physical therapist would not allow me to run. I had to forget the fact that I didn’t have supplemental income from teaching fitness classes. I had to let go of the frustration that I was not as flexible as I had been and drop the worry that I might never be there again. I had to quit worrying about what I could not do and focus on what I could. I also had to ignore the pain for a minute and at least try what the physical therapist asked me to do.
If you are able to master forgetting the rest, are you able to master doing your best? Throughout school (including my master’s degree) I rarely felt challenged. A parent I know is disappointed that the school systems model mediocrity “instead of encouraging [children] to do their best.” She and I agree that parents must take the lead, but schools seem to set the tone for what is accepted in society. I seek out those who push me and demand I push beyond my current capabilities. I have very high expectations for myself, but I know that it easy to do C-level work because that is all that others expect.
Tony’s simple encouragement of “Do your best and forget the rest” may be right on, but it can also be quite challenging!