Doing YOUR BEST is More Important Than Being “The Best”

It Takes Radical Commitment to Accomplish Excellence

Doing our best requires attention to detail.

Pastor Lee told a story of a restaurant that was striving for excellence in the workplace. They had a regular customer that ordered the same soup every time he came in. One day after his soup was brought, he asked the waiter to taste it. The waiter assured the customer that it was the same exact soup as always. The customer was adamant that the waiter taste it. Finally, the waiter gave in and then reached for the spoon and realized there wasn’t one. Of course, this was the customer’s point.

Amazing soup is no good without a spoon.

Doing our best requires commitment.

Last week I wrote about the reduction in commitment. Commitment is needed if we are going to do our best.

When Basketball Hall of Famer Larry Bird started playing ball, he was committed to working hard to be the best he could be. At 13 he would get out of bed early to go to the gym to practice free throws. He would shoot 500 free throws every morning before his first class.

He was one of the highest ranked free throw shooters over his 13-year career with an 89% average. That’s 9 out of every 10 shots.

Doing our best requires never quitting.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers he says,

“In fact, by the age of twenty, the elite performers (violinists) had each totaled ten thousand hours of practice.” — p. 38

“The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin. — p. 40

“To become a chess grandmaster also seems to take about ten years. (Only the legendary Bobby Fisher got to that elite level in less than that amount of time: it took him nine years.) And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” — p. 41

Never quitting requires overcoming obstacles.

Olympic gymnast Cathy Rigby shared a lesson her mother taught her about overcoming obstacles.

Her mother was stricken with polio when carrying her first child and was confined to a wheelchair and crutches. She never let that discourage her. She managed to raise five children and have a career as well.

Cathy was totally absorbed with gymnastics and by 1972 she was on the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team going to the Olympic Games in Munich. She could think of nothing but winning the gold medal.

After performing to the best of her ability, she didn’t win a gold medal and was crushed. After the winners were announced she joined her parents in the stands, all set for a big cry. She apologized and said, “I’m sorry. I did my best.”

“You know that, and I know that,” my mother said, “and I’m sure God knows that, too.” She smiled and said ten words that I never forgot:

“Doing your best is more important than being the best.”

We can never be the best this side of heaven, but we can do our best. Jesus is our example of being the best. Follow that example!

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