Sunday, March 1, 2009

Are You Doing Your Best?

How easy can it be to take a shortcut?
How easy is it to do just enough to get by?
Do you work differently when your boss is around?
Do you go to work only doing enough to ensure a paycheck?
Do you cut your reps shorts if your trainer isn't watching?
Have you ever done only enough to get a passing grade when you were in school?

All of these questions bring me to the last agreement:

Agreement #4 - Always Do Your Best

But before you commit to this agreement, let's first understand what it means to always do your best.

Does doing your best mean being the best? Absolutely not! You don't have to have the highest grades, come in first place, make the most money, be the most liked, or win at everything you do.

Is doing your best measured in time? Absolutely not! Sometimes we get confused and think that the more time we give to something, the more it demonstrates our commitment to excelling at it. But don't be fooled. Look at the example Ruiz gives using meditation. However, you could replace that with anything.

Ruiz writes: “You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, to be happy and to love. If you can do your best in two hours of meditation, but you spend eight hours instead, you will only grow tired, miss the point and you won’t enjoy your life. Do your best, and perhaps you will learn that no matter how long you meditate, you can live, love and be happy.”

So how can you measure whether you are doing your best?

Ruiz writes: “Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time, so your best will sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. When you wake up refreshed and energized in the morning, your best will be better than when you are tired at night. Your best will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick, or sober as opposed to drunk. Your best will depend on whether you are feeling wonderful and happy, or upset, angry or jealous.”

By doing our best, we can look back on the results and be free of guilt and self-judgment from thinking that we haven’t done enough. It's only when we cheat ourselves that we can become filled with regret.

Also, doing your best is being in action. But it's the kind of action you take that determines whether you are living out this agreement. Ruiz says: "When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you're expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don't enjoy the action."

So there you have it - the four agreements:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
2. Don't Take Anything Personally
3. Don't Make Assumptions
4. Always Do Your Best

No matter where you live, what you do, or how old you are - this isn't a bad way to live your life!


  1. I once had a boss say that he wished that there was an output or performance gauge on each employee’s head. Only you know how committed you are to a particular activity and at the end of the day it’s only you who is being cheated if you indeed decided to cut corners especially in the areas that truly matter.

  2. That's the interesting thing about doing your best. Some people measure it by doing enough to satisfy the other person - instead of using that internal meter that determines whether you have really given it your all or not. In the end, you are right, you are only cheating yourself.