Tag Archives: Personal Growth

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On Confidence…

Short version of this post:

True confidence comes from doing. Period. It comes from you stepping out there, trying something new, and finding that you can do it well.

Here’s the long answer:

What we don’t see when we compare ourselves to others is the set of experiences (hard work, encouragement, relative skills at a particular point in time) that has given someone else the confidence THEY have. All we see is ourselves at ground zero, and we’re looking up at the others at the top of the mountain already wondering how they got there. They must have something we don’t (I wrote a bit more on this in my first post of 2016)

When we start off in life, we’re all the same… All helpless little baby blobs – unable to speak, walk, feed ourselves, or even reliably hold up our own heads. Somehow, over time, we’ve become these amazingly intelligent beings. Every one of us is a miracle of life, supremely unique in our perspective, with a truly unlimited potential that is all our own.

During our development, we’ve absorbed innumerable things that have shaped our beliefs. Years of silently observing our parents, who in our earliest lives are the gods of our worlds. We’ve possibly interacted with siblings, other relatives, peers. We’ve challenged them all on various occasions and learned the ‘limits’ in terms of what we can do and what we cannot. At times we received encouragement (which we inherently LOVE) and we’ve been driven to chase after more of it…loving the recognition so much that we were ok with stepping out into the unknown. Other times we’ve been chastised for doing something. Some of us may have done something we thought was amazing only to have the accomplishment fall on deaf ears. We’ve collected a number of painful and humiliating experiences that our ego aggressively avoids.

And now here we stand as adults – complete with our full, unique set of custom-made beliefs that is all our own.

And so the question is, “How can I have more confidence?”

Confidence, most simply put, is the belief that you can do something well. So what you’re really asking is “How can I create a belief in myself that I can do something well?”

It may be something you have never tried, or something where you tried, but have already failed.

Much like walking when you were a baby.

When you were a baby, you didn’t NEED confidence to try again. You wanted to stand up, and you fell. You didn’t care. If anything, your standing and falling was met with an overwhelming amount of stimulating attention! You couldn’t wait to try (and fail) again! So you did. You fell over and over and over and over. You didn’t think at all about what other babies were doing. If anything, seeing older children doing something triggered learning by modeling in you. And finally, you made the first step.. then the second. And eventually you were walking without even trying!

As we got older, things became a bit different. Some of the things we wanted to try were immensely dangerous, and some of us got hurt. Our parents had to ‘teach’ us and instill a certain amount of fear (less for some or more for others) in order for us to survive.

We went through some painful social experiences, where our innate desire to be part of a ‘tribe’ drives us to want to fit in and be accepted by others. We become a product of our particular surroundings, our peers, our social environment, our culture at large. We add to our own experienced limits by watching others, consciously and subconsciously learning from their successes and failures. Our very survival depends on this happening.

As far as nature is concerned, our survival is more important than our internal happiness.

Given that our entire lives have been involved in creating our limits, changing our deepest beliefs that have been etched in stone in the deepest recesses of our minds can be challenging.

Until it isn’t.

We all know of someone, or at least have heard of someone, that has gone through some kind of powerful transformation that shifted everything in their lives.

The reason this happens is that ALL of our internal limits and boundaries are tied together with the nearly unbreakable threads of our deepest beliefs.

When something happens in our lives causes us to question our deepest beliefs, it’s as though one of those binding threads has snapped. All the walls and boundaries held together by that thread begin to collapse and an immense world of possibility begins to open up for us.

So that’s the ‘easy’ way – only ‘easy’ because the ‘something’ that happens is usually some kind of traumatic life event that we are lucky to have survived.

So what do we do if we aren’t ‘lucky’ enough to experience a traumatic life-changing event?

We make a choice.

Choose to challenge your limits.

Challenge your beliefs.

Do not be limited by the beliefs of others, but instead continually expand your own boundaries.

Do not look upon others and see limits, but instead find and be inspired by what others have done and realize that they have shown that it is possible.

Choose to be inspired.

Choose to DO even when you’re not sure that you CAN.

You will fail, and then you will succeed.

And eventually you will truly appreciate that

Failure is merely a stepping stone on the path to success

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Two Gifts To Help With Stress Right Now

Two things that will make your life a little bit (or a lot bit) easier right now:

1.) Things are generally nowhere near as important or urgent as we think they are in the moment.

2.) Stop worrying about bad things that MIGHT HAPPEN, because most of them WILL NOT HAPPEN.

An example of #2: How often have you stressed about getting somewhere late, only to arrive on time?

Continuation with #1: How often have you not only stressed about arriving late, and actually DID arrive late, only to find that the timing was perfect?

Now a bonus #3, a fundamental fact that supports #2:

ALL THINGS CHANGE

Often when we are going through a particular time in our lives that is very difficult, something that challenges everything we are and all we have become, we feel as though the challenging situation may have no end.

One thing is certain – things will change. All things change, and that includes the challenging times that you may be going through at this moment.

Dealing with the situation itself is challenging enough without you adding anything to it, so let go of the worry that your situation will never change – worrying about something bad that might happen, but won’t – because ALL THINGS CHANGE.

In my life, it has been these challenging events…these very events which in the moment are the most difficult time of our lives, that have forged me into the person that I am today.

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On Striving for Success…

For a large portion of my life, I felt that I had to do something BIG to be “successful” – to have “made it”. I think this stems from watching my parents succeed at business (then lose it all, then come back again, but that’s another story). I’ve come a long way since then, and thankfully that success didn’t land in my lap at a point in my life where it would have been more destructive than good.

I’ve been around the ultra wealthy, many of whom show significant signs of unhappiness and dis-ease. This is not to say that one cannot be financially wealthy and be happy – but it’s clear proof to me that money cannot make a person happy when that person does not have a foundation of happiness to build upon.

The reason for writing this today…is that I recently read a post from someone that felt as though it was coming from a place of sheer desperation. The desperation was caused by the striving for “success”, why they haven’t yet attained it… They’re trying everything, doing everything they’re supposed to do, but it still not there… Still not happening yet. Why have so many others ‘made it’ and they haven’t yet.

I could FEEL the desperation. I was able to understand where the author was coming from – I’ve felt aspects of that in my own life at times.

When you’re in that place, it’s hard to be a happy person. You are often filled with a certain amount of jealousy. You absolutely cannot be happy when someone else is successful while you’re still struggling.

In the startup space, there is a LOT of striving for success going on.

In the ‘coaching’ space, there is this sense that if you’re not STRIVING and WORKING toward your dreams, then something is broken in your life.. that you NEED something more. That your dreams have to be HUGE or they’re not worth going after.

Here’s the real issue with all the perspectives above…and this is the TRUTH:

SUCCESS IS A MINDSET, NOT A DESTINATION

YOU are successful because of the person you are, because of how you choose to show up in the world, both how you handle the most difficult situations of your life, as well as how you handle the greatest times…Success is the embodiment of your deepest values, made real in this world through you.

As a coach, I don’t easily classify myself into the typical categories that you hear about…life, business, lifestyle design, performance… maybe personal success is the closest match.

Still, one could at times call what I do ‘business’ coaching, in the sense that a.) it is what the client ‘needed’, but, more importantly, b.) the deeper inner transformation of the person inherently overcomes fear, while manifesting motivation, drive, creative vision, optimism, passion, hope… PURPOSE, which then makes success that much easier.

When you do the inner work on yourself, the outer world – your status, possessions, material things, all that… becomes irrelevant. Your inner work is what makes you whole.

There is a sense of BECOMING, a sense of BEING, right NOW…not STRIVING, but embodying…

The irony is that the less you STRIVE for the status, possessions, material things, all that… the more it seems to be ‘attracted’ to you. This is a very logical result, if you ask me. You simply become a happier person, which becomes attractive. You are able to truly appreciate the success of others, which others can appreciate. Your sincerity and authenticity draws cooperation from others…in person-to-person businesses, for example, this results in strong relationships, repeat clients, referrals… it’s easy to see the impact.

SUCCESS is not trying to get THERE, but is instead BEING THERE NOW

So no matter what your status, where you are in life, what you have or what you don’t have…your SUCCESS is defined by the person you choose to be, right now, at this moment. Work hard when it’s called for, when you are pulled to go after your dreams, go after them.

Some of you will feel the truth in this. Others, possibly in challenging times in their lives, may find it hard to really connect with this message. For others, this may stir a reserved curiosity, possibly of wanting to experience this higher level sense of SUCCESS in your life.

What does imagining yourself as an embodiment of SUCCESS, of BEING THERE NOW, stir in you???

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Life’s Purpose…

Are you searching for a more meaningful life, or do you already know Life’s Purpose for you?

When you feel connected to a larger purpose, connected to your authentic self, there is no need for motivation. Instead of dragging yourself to show up and pushing yourself to get things done, you feel pulled toward your work.

So why this talk about Life’s Purpose now? Well, it’s the start of a new year, and if one is open to it, it can also be a time for introspection, a time when there is a very strong energy of renewal, a reinvigoration of Life’s Purpose. Don’t confuse the intent of this with New Year’s resolutions simply because of the timing. This is NOT about making a list of all the things you put on a list at the beginning of every year, only to forget them all by Jan 4th.

Note that I said “Reinvigoration of Life’s Purpose,” not ”Your Purpose In Life.” The difference is subtle. Life is bigger than you, than me, and being part of something bigger than yourself, something connected to Life, brings with it a very profound sense of meaning.

Here are the four Levels of Life’s Purpose that we may progress through.

  1. Existing. We are not searching for our Life’s Purpose. We are floating through life, not connected with anything very meaningful or purposeful. We are often in this state in our youth, though certain experiences can free us from this (sometimes encounters with enlightened individuals, sometime tragedies that knock our world upside down and force us into contemplation for answers). For many, it is simply the passage of time and unfulfilled dreams that can wake us up to contemplate a question like “Do I matter?”
  2. Searching. We feel that there must be something more to life, something to give our life meaning. We want to matter, to make a difference. We don’t know how, we don’t know what, but we are searching for something.
  3. Connected. We have discovered Life’s Purpose for ourselves, and we feel a connection to it – pulling us closer to fulfilling our purpose.
  4. Fulfilled. We are living Life’s Purpose fully and completely. We are strongly connected to Life’s Purpose, and this connection allows us to flow in new directions as Life presents new paths. Every day of our lives, good and bad, is still an amazing, interesting, and wonderful experience.

It is a very sad thing that many, if not most, go through their entire lives simply Existing, unaware, unconnected, and feeling as though their life does not and has not really mattered.

So don’t simply make a list of resolutions for this New Year. This year do something deeper, something more lasting and meaningful for your life. Examine the Level of your life… If you’re simply Existing, perhaps it’s time to as yourself the big questions…Why are we here? Is there something more to life than what I’ve been living so far?

If you have been feeling that there must be something more, if you are Searching, focus on your inner work. It doesn’t matter what you call it… God, Infinity, Intention, Life… open yourself up to the possibility that there is a higher purpose and meaning for your life, a place meant for you – where you can matter most. When you are open, your teachers (sometimes life itself) will find you. Life will help show you your Life’s Purpose.

When you feel Connected to Life’s Purpose, you are invigorated with the knowledge that there is something more. You may not know how to fulfill Life’s Purpose, but you know it’s there. It’s as though you know there is gold in a mountain, but you don’t know exactly where it is. It doesn’t matter, the knowledge that it is there is all you need to make you experiment with ways of reaching it. Some days are filled with excitement as you have some success, other days may be fraught with challenges and you may feel discouraged and have doubts. This Level of Life’s Purpose is where the work truly begins. Just as when searching for gold, the work may be the most difficult, but the rewards can be just as great in proportion.

So begin this New Year with an awareness of your current level, and a clear intention to progress to the next Level of Life’s Purpose. You may not know how… or what… be open… fearlessly explore. Don’t be afraid of failure – there is no failure, there is only Life, and the wonderful adventure, full of challenges, excitement, drama, and success.

It’s time to search for, find, and begin to live fulfilled… to live Life’s Purpose… to live Your Higher Level Life.

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One Important Lesson To Kick Off 2016

Careful How You Compare Yourself…

We compare ourselves to others, often automatically and somewhat subconsciously. We compare looks, our happiness, financial success, professional success, accomplishments, social status, material goods, physical abilities, family, friends, children, and their accomplishments… and 1000 other aspects of our lives – anything that can be associated or attributed to something considered ‘part’ of us, or ‘related’ to us in some way.

This sizing up of ourselves has a very useful purpose. In the business world, knowing one’s competition allows for strategic marketing, and possibly creating a solution that is not provided by your competition. In a physical conflict, it allows one to avoid violent encounters that would otherwise prove likely to be deadly or injurious if we are clearly outmatched by our rival (while seeming irrelevant for many, unfortunately this is a very real subject for many youths, and adults, all around the world – sometimes on a daily basis).

This somewhat automatic act of comparing ourselves to others has evolved from a very real need for survival… much like fear (something I wrote similarly of in Stop Living by Fear.

However, much like fear being useful as well as limiting, self-comparison can also be limiting and harmful when out of balance. In today’s world it is more difficult than ever to see things clearly. Social media, marketing, cosmetic surgery, airbrushing and editing of photography, movies and television shows…our perception of reality is very skewed. Comparing ourselves can sometimes lead to negative patterns of thinking, behavioral disorders, and a severely limited life (entirely self-imposed).

Much has been written similar topics – so I want to focus on two very clear points:

  1. Our knowledge of someone else’s full life experience is always incomplete
  2. We judge our full selves against someone else’s incomplete external image

Our knowledge of someone else’s full life experience is always incomplete

Think about the fact that we often compare aspects of our lives in isolation. We compare our weight or fitness to that of others, yet we don’t compare our full lives. The other person may be dedicating so much of their life to fitness that they have sacrificed their personal relationships, time with their children, and success in their career (and these may be things that for you are amazing). Or, perhaps someone else has an amazing career, but doesn’t have the wonderful kids you have… or vice versa (notice neither is better or worse, but is simply the results of your choices in life and each has their merits).
With social media, our images of others are primarily based on what they want to represent as their lives. We inherently share and celebrate our victories and successes, and quietly hide or move past our defeats and challenges – usually not wanting anyone else to know. So when others see us, and when we see others, the picture is NEVER complete.

We judge our full selves against someone else’s incomplete external image

This is where our ‘automatic’ act of comparing of ourselves to others can lead to problems if we are not present and aware that what we ‘know’ about someone else is grossly incomplete. If we are attempting to start a new business, and we’re comparing ourselves to someone else that has an immensely successful business, we may feel that we can never be as good / successful / famous / respected (insert any adjective you like here). But what we don’t see is the 10 failures they had while creating their success. We don’t see the way they were when they were just starting out – when they had the same insecurities that you have now. We don’t see all their flaws, mistakes, misjudgments, insecurities. We only see where they are now – not how they got there.

There is a VERY different feeling of possibility when one can see that they too can do what someone else has done. Sometimes it’s not all about self-confidence, or self-esteem, but simply knowing that you and they are truly much more alike than you realize…That they too were once just like you, with the same dreams, doubts, and a very unique set of talents, thoughts, and abilities.

The truth is we all have something amazing to offer this world. We are all human, we all have unique talents, as well as doubts and insecurities. Everyone gets tired sometimes. Everyone feels doubts, fears, and sometimes needs a helping hand, and maybe a kind word or gentle guidance from someone that has been there and done that.

So as you go through this coming year in 2016, set your goals high, and don’t limit yourself. You don’t have to know how you’re going to get there, just know that you will and start moving in the right direction. When you see someone whom you may put on some form of a pedestal, try to imagine them when they were just starting out…try to view their whole person. Then learn from what others have done, but don’t worry about who’s in front or behind you… just keep moving forward toward your dreams and you’ll be amazed with what begins to happen in your life :)

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Rickety Bridge

Don’t Look Down…

We’ve seen this in the movies a million times, and maybe we’ve been in a situation or two in our lives where we’ve heard this:

DON’T LOOK DOWN…

If you’re not supposed to look down, where the *$#& are you supposed to look???

LOOK WHERE YOU’RE GOING!

Keep your eyes focused on your goal, and your mind focused on making the next step.

This thought came to me as I caught my mind running away from me this morning.  You see, I challenge myself as much as I challenge anyone I work with – to develop themselves, reach higher, get out of their (our?) comfort zones.

And this was one of those mornings where a few challenging areas of my own life started to percolate up to the surface.  I felt that fear inside… and heard that inner voice…

What if I can’t…

What if this doesn’t work out…

I have to figure this out, but I don’t see how…

I could feel tension in my body building up.

I meditated…..

One of my favorite Aikido instructors was Sugano Sense…He lost a foot to diabetes.  He returned to teach, and was more powerful than ever.  He described working through the loss as “an interesting challenge“.

I love thinking of that when I’m faced with something difficult…

IT’S AN INTERESTING CHALLENGE…

Meditating when your mind is running away from you is exactly that… it’s an interesting challenge.

A challenge is something I can deal with.  I’ll never back down from an interesting challenge.

Then I had this image come to mind of crossing a rickety foot-bridge… high up…where someone that is guiding me across would say:

DON’T LOOK DOWN

I immediately felt some of the tension diminish.

Here’s what I told myself:

Don’t look down.  Don’t focus on problems or issues that might be around you now, focus on where you are going… Focus on taking the next step… and then the next… and then the next.

Changing my focus, I felt good…

Taking that next step, I felt great.

Taking the step after…and the one after that, I’m on my way and nothing can stop me.

It’s an interesting challenge!

OCTOBER OFFER:

Do you have an interesting challenge???

I Am The World

Be Limitless!

What limits are holding you back right now?  What limiting thoughts, behaviors, beliefs?  Where do they come from – your own mind? Another person’s voice?  Past experiences, or what you’ve seen others do or not do?

Repeat this to yourself right now, and whenever you hear any limiting thoughts:

I AM LIMITLESS!!!

We’ve all had those moments of doubt, but we’ve also had those moments of accomplishment and success.  We’ve all felt that elation when we were unsure of ourselves, but we persevered and succeeded in spite of our doubts. We’ve surprised ourselves!

As children we begin to see a pattern, the pattern where we don’t yet KNOW that we can do something, but we try anyways…and sometimes we succeed…sometimes we fail.  For some of us, the pattern is predominantly negative.  We become afraid of failure, afraid of being ridiculed.  Others of us begin to feed on the elation of success. Throughout our lives these patterns become reinforced – by our employers, significant others, family members.

These ‘patterned’ limits become our internal thermostat.  They direct our everyday decisions. They are deep in our subconscious, and direct our behaviors behind the scenes trying to protect us from ourselves. The act of procrastination is a very good example… perhaps you never got around to sending in that job application – you were “too busy”, or somehow it slipped your mind… when in fact, that was simply some part of your own mind avoiding the pain of failure that it was falsely predicting.

Repeat this right now:

“I am safe to make my own decisions and my own choices, and I will not limit myself.  I know that my happiness is in my true freedom to choose my own destiny.”

There are countless examples of limitations imposed by the human mind.  One of the most widely known examples is when the world believed it was impossible for any human to run a mile in under 4 minutes.  After an eternity of trying, Roger Bannister finally proved that it was possible.  Then, as if an invisible barrier had been shattered in the minds of the world, within a year another runner repeated the feat… And later another, and another.  How is that possible?  Did the WORLD become faster overnight?  Yes and No.  Physically the runners were the same.  What changed?  The limit in their minds had been removed.

From the very small daily decisions we make, to the life changing… every action we take is governed and throttled by our own internal “thermostat” of what we believe is possible.  While it makes sense to avoid wasting our time on something futile, more often than not the important decisions are in that gray area of the unknown where both failure AND success reside.

Make a commitment to constantly challenge your own beliefs of what is and what is not possible. Push yourself. Inch that thermostat up a tiny notch at first…. and then another… and another. Will you endure failures?  Of course!  That is not only ok, that’s how you know you’re REALLY doing it right!

If you never fail, you are not living anywhere near your true potential for SUCCESS.

You will learn to appreciate how fear and doubt will be transformed into wonder and possibility… that sense of “What if?”. You will no longer see the shadows, you’ll see the light. You will no longer see the chance of failure, you will see the path to success.

You will begin to realize that there are no true limits… that you can achieve way more than you’ve ever dreamed possible… that you truly are LIMITLESS!

 

Yin Yang

3 Ways to Use Challenging Times

Challenging times, no matter how difficult, can be a portal for development. When you feel anywhere from stressed to hopeless, take some time to see, and feel, what’s happening. In the moment of experiencing where you are, you have an opportunity… an opportunity to evolve your consciousness.  An opportunity to step out of the stress or suffering.  An opportunity that others, in more seemingly “comfortable” situations, simply do not have.

1. Use your emotional energy to change your situation.

Step one is to observe the situation that you are in.  You may feel any number of negative emotions: frustration, anger, resentment, sorrow, hatred, etc.  Feel the situation fully and accept the situation for what it is.  Use the emotional energy to propel you to take action. Action may be internal or external if you are capable of doing something about your situation to improve it… use the energy to push through the difficulty.  If your external situation is truly beyond your control, then go deep into the emotional energy and accept it as it is.  The “stress”, “pain”, or “suffering” you are going through is a result of non-acceptance of your situation.  By accepting your situation you are no longer creating the internal stress, mental pain, or suffering for yourself.

2. Recognize the opportunity for growth.

On a constant basis, recognize even minor challenges and frustrating situations as a time for growth.  As soon as you catch yourself feeling any negative emotion, step outside off the emotion and observe yourself.  Strive to catch yourself immediately – as soon as the emotion starts.  This may happen at work with your boss, at home with your spouse, with your children, with strangers, or even with yourself.  Don’t fight the negativity, but don’t feed it – just observe.  Become aware of it, accept it, then let it go because you know it’s not serving you.  By recognizing the “challenging situations” as opportunities, you will inherently become more mentally balanced, and at peace.  You will also start to notice that many of the negative situations you were experiencing simply stop happening or become much less intense.

3. See the challenge as a catalyst for something new.

Every situation that we perceive of or label as negative does have a positive side effect.  For some, it takes time to develop the ability to re-frame your experiences into something positive.  The positive aspect of your situation does exist – no matter how difficult it may be to recognize it in the moment.  Learn to use your situation to open your mind to new possibilities.  You will eventually be unable to see anything as inherently good or bad… When you catch yourself labeling or categorizing events or times of your life along the spectrum of good or bad, step back for a moment and realize that this is a chance for you to grow.  These experiences are what make you whom you are…they are the catalysts for change.  They are necessary to guide you and teach you.  They are portals for change, providing you with the energy (motivation) to act.  Focus on being open to the opportunities these moments create.

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Want Positive, Be Positive

Jim Rohn said it best:

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”

You need positive people in your life.  People that believe anything is possible.  People that support your dreams.  People that are developed enough to not be afraid of your success, that help you think farther and help you stretch your own boundaries.

How do you find positive people?  Be that person to others and they will find you.

Accept people as they are and be careful not to judge or criticize people that may show some negativity or not be as supportive as you would like.  You attract positivity by exuding it, not by forcing it upon others.  Remember, you choose with whom you spend your time.  Just because you would like to spend time with one person or another, and you would like him/her to be supportive doesn’t mean it will ever happen.  Not everyone has to have the same hopes, plans, and dreams as you do, and that’s ok.

When you start paying attention to the “positivity level” of others, positive people will stand out.  Take an inventory of the people in your life right now – who falls into the positive, optimistic, can-do-anything personality category?  What’s even better is a do-er rather than a dreamer…Most people will be hard-pressed to think of anyone…

As you exude and attract positive people, you can’t help but be changed.  Others supporting you, showing you that something you thought was impossible is possible through their own actions… others supporting you when you attempt what some would claim is impossible, unrealistic, or unlikely… You need that when you’re facing those challenges.  The accumulation of subtle shifts of mindset on a daily basis is critical to your success.

So as you finish up this week, and the rest of this year, look for positivity.. use the holidays to make new connections, and develop new personal relationships.

– Want positive, be positive.

Do Your Best

Whatever you’re doing, do your best.  Give doing your best some thought.  Do your best at everything.  Do your best to take care of yourself.  Do your best to care about and help others.  Do your best at work, do your best for your family.

Do your best to accept that your best will never be perfect.  Don’t beat yourself up because you think you should have done better.

Do your best refers to what you’re doing right NOW, not what you did or how you did yesterday.  Likewise, don’t worry about how you might do tomorrow.

Doing your best means you can relax in the knowing that you DID your best, and that what will happen will happen.  Whatever the result from the mix of things within your control and without your control will be what it will be – and you did your best.

If you haven’t been doing your best, it’s ok because that’s in the past.  Do your best NOW.  As you begin to do your best you can relax, a weight will be lifted in your mind and in your heart and you will be able to accept whatever comes of it – good or bad or great.

Do your best for yourself – that is more than enough for anything else.  If you believe in God, doing your best is the highest form of worship – making the best of the life that you’ve been gifted.

Now…Do your best…Now