“Be The Best – At Everything You Do”
Every single time I’ve said this to someone, they come back with an argument:
“But how can I be the best in the world at everything? Or even anything?”
I then explain and clarify:
“I never said ‘best in the world’. I only said ‘be the best’.“
So, what’s the difference?
One is comparing yourself with everyone else in your universe, and engaging in a futile struggle to be ‘better’ than them. The other is only looking within at yourself – and asking “Did I give it my all? Could I have done more?”
Look, in the ultimate analysis, there is only so much you, me, or anybody else can do. We all come with our built-in limitations, restrictions and boundaries. No matter how eager and determined he is, a man without legs cannot win the world high jump competition, and a lady without eyesight can’t shoot brilliant world-class photographs.
But d’you know what matters? Not that you do better than everyone else, but that you do as best as YOU can. And that’s within reach of every single one of us.
When Being Merely Ok Is Enough…
How many times has this happened to you before?
You hardly prepare for a test, but score the highest in your class – because the others studied even less than you.
You delivered a barely adequate project, but were warmly praised by the boss – because the others were not even on schedule.
You uploaded a bare-bones draft of your new ebook, spelling and grammar mistakes galore, just because you were too bored to correct and edit it – and anyway made a barrel-load of sales.
We have all experienced situations where simply being “good enough is good enough”.
And, sadly, many of us have settled for that norm.
Why strive for excellence when ‘barely good’ is more than sufficient? Children adopt this paradigm at school. Adults at work. And many of us do even around the house, or in our family lives.
Yet, in an over-crowded marketplace where everyone is screaming for attention and an audience, there is one thing that overwhelms and dominates – and that is EXCELLENCE.
Being the best is what you can take to the bank!
Authority Charms Crowds
When you walk into a bookstore, which books do you see in the front display rack? Nine out of ten titles will be written by best-selling authors, names that you are already familiar with, and whose other books you have probably read before.
On the poster of a blockbuster movie (or when the opening credits play), who gets top billing? The famous superstar whom audiences love and rave about.
It’s the same everywhere. Authority charms crowds.
And broadly speaking, the authority these people wield comes from being the best in their field. You know James Patterson or Stephen King as the best novelists in their genre. You know Johnny Depp or George Clooney as the best Hollywood actors. You know Venus Williams and Roger Federer as top tennis stars. You know Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking as brilliant scientists.
These are folks who are at the top of their game. The very best.
And that’s a good reason to strive to be the best.
Perfection Is A Lifestyle
But… but… but didn’t we just talk about how hard it is to be the best at anything? So how can you strive to be the best at whatever you do?
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle.
Habits are tough things to establish – or change. It takes repetitive and intentional action. If you want to create a habit of waking up earlier in the morning and reading for an hour, then you must intentionally set your alarm for an hour sooner, act when it goes off, force yourself out of bed, and sit down with a book. And you must do this repeatedly, over and over again – until it becomes almost automatic.
That, in essence, is also how you become the very best at anything you do.
You start by intentionally deciding to give it your very best. You follow up on that intention by making sure you put the right kind of focus, effort and energy into it. And you remain consistent with that attitude for as long as it takes for it to become a habit.
And then, suddenly, you’ll discover that “doing your best” has become a habit! A part of YOU.
2 Secret Keys To Doing Excellent Work
Let’s face it. We’re never going to be excellent or top-class or brilliant at everything. Even Einstein couldn’t find his way to the neighborhood grocery store! (He said, famously, “I don’t clutter up my mind with trivia!”)
Anyway, we don’t need to be the best at everything – just the things that really matter. And those will vary from you to me to someone else.
There are two keys to making sure that you do your best at what counts or matters to you:
1. Being Able
The thing you decide to give your best to must be within your capacity to carry out. If you read an inspiring tale about heroes who conquered Mt.Everest, and state with passion and fire that you are going to attempt to scale the world’s highest peak too – but you have never even tried trekking up that tiny hill in your town – well, let’s just say you’ve got a long, hard climb ahead of you!
But if it’s something you already do, or are capable of doing, and you just haven’t thought about putting in your very best effort to execute flawlessly, then that’s an ideal place to begin. Intent. Practice. And soon, it becomes a habit.
Pick an area or activity or niche that you can dominate by focusing on being the best, and you could soon establish a beach-head that no competitor can storm. Your effort to do YOUR best will end up making you THE BEST of all!
2. Being Willing
The other factor that makes it easier for you to do your best is to have passion for the job. Ask a fan of World War history if they want a copy of Winston Churchill’s six volume account of WW2 (4,736 pages!) – and they’ll jump at your offer! That’s passion at play.
The enormity of the task, the challenge of getting it done, the hardships along the way – everything fades away into the darkness when the brilliant light of passion is shone upon it.
Bringing passion to whatever you do is a guaranteed way to make sure that you give it your best shot. So you can select only those things you’re passionate about – or you can become passionate about anything you want to be the best at. Either way works.
Be The Best
Make this a simple challenge you set yourself for this week. Pick a task. Anything. It should meet the two conditions – you should be able to do it, and it should be something you’re passionate about.
Then set out with the conscious intention of putting your best into it. Practice it over and over again, until it becomes second nature. Then come back and tell me how it feels to be the best!
Remember, authority stems from being the best at what you do.
And excellence is a habit.
Be the best you can – always!
hi Dr. Mani-
yes*! inspiring…and some people become “the best” in efforts to overcome shocking obstacles.
Artist John Bramblitt (happens to be blind and an incredible painter*!)
Thanks for that link about John Bramblitt, Kara. Truly inspirational.
Excellence always stands out … and the beauty is it can be a journey and a destination.
I really like your comment. I think passion gives confidence. These are the key for sucess.
It’s true that excellence is the one that dominates and stands out however the sad thing about excellence is that it makes people nervous that’s why they settled down in OK rather than the best. Remember that excellence is to do common things in uncommon way. So don’t be nervous and just do your best.
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Touched with your simplicity & modesty to appreciate to read & comment on something written by
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If only, I did not know “Boca Raton” – I would not have braved this little note.
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Excellent!! I love the quote “I never said ‘best in the world’. I only said ‘be the best’.“
Being the best to someone is not easy because we all believe in the saying that no one is perfect and every man commits its own mistake. What if that special someone asked you to be perfect for her/him do you think its a fair condition if you will do it for the sake of your love one.
Very inspiring. “Be the best” I will always remember these words and challenge myself.
We all should – all the time 🙂
Hi Dr. Mani,
Very interesting and energetic article, I really enjoy reading it and I totally agree with your point that nobody can do everything with perfection. It depends upon the person ability and desire to do something. To become best you need the zeal and passion so that you can do it continuously and become famous and then best in your field.
I think we need to be inspired by Steve Jobs on this particular aspect. He doesn’t sleep until he knows that the product is excellent. And his standards for excellence just happened to be the most stringiest in the world! It might help if we work under a boss like him. What say? 🙂
Dr Mani, the real skill for me is being best at what you know you are good at – no-one can be excellent at everything but can be a veritable master at what they are natural at. Zero in on specific abilities and turn yourself from talented into a supremo.
Chet Holmes is fond of saying how it’s much harder to get from ‘mediocre’ to ‘average’ than to go from ‘good’ to ‘GREAT’ 🙂
Giving the best you can and being the best you can be is all about mindset. Having a positive mindset and believing in yourself enables you to be noticed as a cut above the norm.
In the world we live in today where customer service seems to be lacklustre at best and downright non existent in the main, to give your all really makes a difference.
Transfer that onto a personal level too and you will exerience a much fuller life
Enjoy your day
Great point to the story and I believe I know someone who is an example of this. I have a friend who lives in a small tourist town. She is a singer, an artist and a hair stylist. Respectfully, she is not the best in the world at all of these things. Her voice is deep and sometimes out of tune. Her art is folk arty, not what some might consider master level. She is a very good hair stylist. However, every day, I see her doing her best, suiting up and showing up and succeeding in life. I highly respect her for this.
Reading what you say about her makes me respect her too, Natalie. Thanks for sharing that.
Well said Dr, I love the idea of “Being Able” you’re right about that. Thanks so much for sharing. Have fun!
What’s even nicer is that as we keep trying, we find ourselves “being able” to do so much more than we believed before! 🙂
Thank you very well said. I think the INTENT and then PRACTICE is the best advise.
Nothing can be excellent without consistent practice.
with loving kindness
It is always never fulfilling if i dont give my best at every point of my life. Good read i must say! and inspiring! I make it a point that i bring excellence with me all the time, even if it doesnt mean success (but excellence most of the time brings success in) it is just as fulfilling.
Agree totally with you, Virgil. And isn’t ‘success’ defined in a sense by that ‘fulfillment’ anyway?!
Thank you Dr. Mani for a thought provoking article. Making something a habit is the hardest part I believe. But then again if you want to be the best, it is worth the extra effort to make it happen. Doing something for 21 days straight becomes a habit, so start striving for it today.
True. Every act of excellence was bred through hard, repeated practice – in one form or another.
I joined your list and love your stuff!
Thanks, Mark 🙂
You are a shining example of who we can be our best at who we are Dr. Mani. A heart surgeon for underprivledged children, an info-preneur who shares his knowledge with the world, you are a true inspiration. I find it helps me to read daily words of inspiration from those I respect and who seem to have gotten it *right* – it helps me to put things in perspective and focus more clearly (which also explains why I am here 🙂 One of my greatest inspirations is Hellen Keller, who overcame incredible obstacles to become a world-renowned woman on honour. One quote that Ms Keller said (among other things) was, “When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” Sometimes our best is not for ourself but to bless another, which in turn blesses us back. Sweet karma at it’s finest. Have a wonderful day all and thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Sally, for the gracious words. I deeply appreciate you for sharing that 🙂
Thanks for the inspiring article. Art was my worst subject at school when I was a teenager but decades later I established my own web design business through 12 years of continuous study and practice.
A thing dug out from my archives is below:
===== //////// ======
Saturday, June 05, 2010, 13:35:43
MY ROLE MODELS
1) Dr Mani.
For what he has achieved, what he is doing & what he is aspiring to give.
To make it simpler, he gave me a different outlook & a complete overhaul at the age of
I am 56 yrs now & he will ever remain to be – that sure.
( Today going on @57).
2) Sir Richard Branson
The only field that I was employed in is – Aviation, for 32 years.
Joined as a Flight Attendant & resigned too – as one.
Sir Richard, Gosh!
From one type of business to another & to another.
His sense of arrogant simplicity, modest sense of celeb status, coupled with a high
degree of achievement.
—– what drives him & what drives his team !!! —-
—– No wonder he has selected a team of self motivators —–
Is it a wonder to have him placed there – by me @ No: 2 ! ! !
========= ///// ========
PS Added Now:
It takes very little to wonder how come !!
A jet flier at high altitude camping in the Best of Hotels – living in the Gutters.
* * Grateful to my indomitable wife Romany for her patience.
* *To Dr. Mani – I have no words – just to say he will my Idol & Role Model.
Will make sure I will bring him no disgrace.
Hew gave me a sense of PURPOSE.
Thanks, Dileepa 🙂
I loved what you have done here. The design is elegant, your stuff classy. Yet, you have got an edginess to what you’re offering here. Ill definitely come back for more….
When I consciously started my Personal Development journey back in 1997 I decided that I wanted to always do my best at whatever I choose to do. Mediocrity does not sit well with who I am now. We all have our own levels of what being the best means but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t stretch and grow to become even better than we already are.
I totally agree, if we continue to strive to grow and develop we can achieve unbelievable results.
I love this post, it really made me think about myself and how I operate in my daily life. I strive daily to ‘do my best’. However, unfortunately that doesn’t necessarily mean ‘be the best’ because for reasons out with my control it is not always possible. Life is full of obstacles, which often can’t be hurdled easily or set aside in order to focus on ‘being the best’. It is often frustrating as I’m sure, that given more time to concentrate and opportunity to dedicate focus and determination, I am capable of so much more. Making time is not always easy but I am slowly understanding that trying to accomplish ‘something’ each day, even if its just part of a bigger picture, can put you on the path to ‘being the best’ at some point. It just may not happen overnight, but if you’re on the path, you have much more chance of reaching your goal and eventually, you just may surprise yourself. Thank you for an important reminder and your inspiration.
I enjoy reading your blog, and it is relevant to the daily life of the people now. I am looking forward to read more thoughts and ideas here in your site.
Dr Mani, great to hear from you and wishing you all the best for more great things to come.
What wise words Dr Mani, thank you for an inspirational post. I’m looking forward to reading more.
Thanks for that link about John Bramblitt, Kara. Truly inspirational.
If we can truly look ourselves in the mirror at the end of the day and say we’ve given our all then this is the beginning of excellence. Once we get into the habit of truly doing all we can do in any task then we are building the foundations of excellence. If we always give our all and practice good habits we can achieve a lot more than we imagine. Great post Dr!
Thanks Mani, one truth about the human nature is HOW YOU DO ANYTHING IS HOW YOU DO EVERYTHING. Once excellence is cultivated it becomes reflective in ALL you do.
It is nice to know that all this time I haven’t been far from the correct path. Most of what is mentioned in this article have been a daily application in my life. Because of this “habit” I never leave things half done; i like to know the full of what I am embarking on.
I like reading articles like these because they provide further motivation for me to keep aspiring to be the best that I can be, which in turn will most likely manifest itself into me being one of the best out there in what I choose to do.
You are right, Excellence and striving for perfection are a habit and this only comes with practice and repetition.
Dr. Mani: Truly inspiring article. I read these articles when I feel too low and believe me, they do magics for me. thanks a million tons for it. i have been working very hard to be the best in my field, and an inspiration to that is your article.
You are right bot being Excellent.!! feels good
A very very inspiring article. This is exactly what i was looking for. We all need motivation at times and people like you are always there to help.Thank you very much and keep posting. God bless you 🙂
Dr Mani: Thank you so much for such an interesting article… truely inspiring! Will try to apply in my day to day life as well… sometimes being our best blesses those closest to us which makes us more contented and happy! :):)
You just showed me the right and the best answer needed at this time. God bless you Doctor.
Oh dr Mani, this is just what I needed. Bless you.
1) To be the best you would also need to have believe in yourself.
2) Being the best of what you do is to secure your excellent carrer for
being replace by someone else, because in reality your boss or the
society will always have the choice to replace you for a better one, so
stay excellent no matter what possition you are.
3) Being excellent is also to have the sence of achievement and
4) Always ask youself a question ” Do i have the choice or ability for not be
the best of what i am doing and have the excellent lifestyle for my entire
The above is about what i know of being the best and please kindly comment.
“Authority stems from being the best at what you do.
And excellence is a habit. (Not an inherent act)
Be the best you can – always!”
The words to live by for life!
Thanks Dr. Mani. Took notes like I never did in any of my science classes ever before! You added something to the person I am 🙂 Thanks very much.
🙂 Will do
Competing with yourself instead of just trying to be better than others is SO important.
When you’re extraordinary at something, competing only against others could keep you from reaching your full potential, because you stop once you’re better than everyone, instead of continuing to push forward and see what you’re truly capable of.
Thank you very much…you words shall help work even harder at school…wake up early enough to study …push myself to the limit..and become the best…thank you once again…and this time I am pretty confident that I will reach my goal.