Monday, June 10, 2019

Do Your Best

“… there’s only one way to justify work that’s better than it needs to be: Because you cared enough.”

When I was growing up, my parents expected the best and I worked hard to produce the best. I could see the disappointment in their faces when I failed to get the perfect grade. If I got a 90, why didn’t I get a 95? If I got a 95, why didn’t I get 100?

Don’t get me wrong. I knew I was loved but my parents always thought I was the most brilliant child in the world and that I was perfect. Since I was perfect, they expected the best.

I was taught that if I was going to do a job, that it had to be done right. Don’t take short cuts. Use the best quality of materials (including my mind). Give it 100% effort.

If I wasn’t planning on doing my best, it was best not to do it.

Turning in poor quality work was not acceptable.

If I was assigned a task, even if I didn’t want to do it, giving my best effort was expected. No, demanded.

As I grew up, I knew in my heart if I didn’t give it my best effort. I always hated it when I was a teenager and I didn’t get as good a grade as my parents liked and they asked me if I had done my best. Could I have studied harder? Is there anything I could have done that would have improved my grade. Sometimes I could honestly say I had done my best and my parents took me at my word and accepted it.

After I was on my own, I kept this “ruler” in my head and constantly try to measure how I’m doing. I have to admit that sometimes, I even let myself down. But I feel it is important to always reflect and see how I’m doing.

When I’m teaching my students, I try to teach them this process. I want them to learn to do their work in a way that they can be proud of themselves. I don’t feel that perfection is the goal but that doing their best is the goal.

Sometimes doing their best involves asking for help. Doing your best doesn’t mean doing everything alone.

If my students have put their best effort into it and done the best they could, then I am happy with the end result and they should be too.

How do you teach your students to do their best? Please share.

Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

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