When you have done everything you can do. When you have done your very best - what else is there to do? You just wanted to do better than your best. But you have to accept that doing your best doesn’t always mean you will win the game – you did all you could and gave it your all. You have to tell yourself that it is a win even though it will be recorded as a loss.
And when you don’t do your best – well, you look at why that was. What happened? How can you change things so you are able to do your best the next time around?
In school, you can say to a child – “Do your best.” You say it and mean it in a kind way. You want the child to succeed, and you are trying to motivate him/her. The child wants to please you, and the child wants to do his/her best.
One year as we were getting ready to give our state standardized test, one of the boys in my class broke down. He was sobbing with his head buried in his arms on the desk. I went over to console him. I put my hand on his back and asked, “Hey buddy, what is the matter?” He sobbed all the harder. I told him I wanted to help him – “Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
Still sobbing, he said – “I’m gonna fail. I’m gonna fail. And they will hold me back again. (He had already been held back once). I wanted to cry with him, the pressure he felt and his desire to succeed. I leaned down and I said, - “I understand your fear. I want you to know that I will not let that happen. No matter what - I will not let them hold you back again. Can you hear what I’m saying? – I will not let that happen.” He looked up at me with tears in his eyes.
I hugged him, and said – “All you can do is your best. Just do your best. I can’t say anything during the test – but I will be here. Just try – don’t give up. In a few minutes we will begin the test, I won’t be able to say anything once it begins, but I believe in you. I care about you. Just do your best.”
We don’t want to fail. We just want to do our best. Even though we talk about things like growth mindset and how it’s okay to make mistakes and even though we learned about all the great people who have failed and gone on to be successful. At this moment in time, we don’t want to fail. We want to do our best. When the moment comes where we have failed even though we have done our best – we need support. We need to hear that it will be okay; though it feels like the end of the world – it is not. You can go on. Just being able to move forward after defeat is a win and you will begin to grow stronger with every step you take. Just do your best – that’s all you can do. And I know you can do it! I believe in you!