Is that Your Best?

My life used to be a constant search for perfection. I believe it came from never being able to please my mother. No matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. So, I set off on a lifelong search to find a way to finally be good enough. That search led me to be hard on myself and to allow nothing less than perfection in everything I did.

To be perfect means never to make a mistake. But, mistakes are the very things that make us human. In fact, we don’t learn without making mistakes. These are necessary life lessons. How did I get off the perfection roller coaster? By realizing that all I have to do is my best.

In an episode of Breaking Bad, one of the main characters, Jesse, was telling a story about a carpentry class he took in school. He was supposed to make a small chest as his project for the year. He decided to make it quickly and get it over with so he could mess around for the rest of the classes. When he brought his shoddily-made box to his teacher, all the teacher said was, “Is that your best?”

Jesse didn’t feel that the teacher was criticizing him or telling him to do it better, he was just asking a simple question. If Jesse had answered yes, the teacher would have probably accepted the project and given him an average grade, but Jesse suddenly wasn’t satisfied with himself and his workmanship. He took the box back and spent weeks making the best chest he could make. He spent hours sanding and shaping until he had a project he was proud of. You could see the pride in his face even as he told the story years later. Now he could honestly answer, “Yes. This is my best.”

That’s all we need to do. We don’t need to be perfect. It’s actually impossible to be so. Besides, what is perfect anyway but someone’s opinion. One man’s perfection is another man’s lowest standard. If you do your best, you can always feel proud of what you accomplish. The next time you do something that isn’t perfect, remind yourself, “I did my best.”