Doing Your Best
“You are doing a great job” are important words of encouragement. When they are not true and are just platitudes the ring of truth is absent. When it is true and deserved, it affirms personal value and encourages diligence. Can you remember the times you’ve received an accolade like that? I’ll bet you can, no matter how many years ago.
Perfectionists have the hardest time accepting personal affirmations no matter how much deserved. They don’t feel merited and focus on what could have been done even better. While there is nothing wrong with a focus on improvement, there is a problem when nothing is good enough.
Translating this issue into workplace parlance adds further complications. One important piece to any workplace puzzle is the amount of resources available to address any issue. Seldom are there sufficient resources to allocate in solving the problem. Most business problems can, or could be, solved by assigning additional staff or enhanced technology to the solution. Often the resources, personnel or technological, are not available. The smaller the organization the more difficult the allocation of resources. In virtually every organization there is competition for limited resources, money, people, technology, etc.
So, the answer to the problem is framed as follows: What is the best solution given limited resources? It’s these given limited resources that makes it hard. Learning how to solve a problem or even assess an opportunity given limited resources is much harder than solving the same problem or reaching for the new opportunity when resources abound.
I just finished reading a biography of Jefferson Davis as commander in chief of the Confederate States of America. As President and Commander and Chief he faced the Northern States of the US as a decided disadvantage. He and many of his compatriots believed that their cause alone would propel them to victory. The lack of enough manpower, guns, ammunition, shoes and food doomed their cause from the start. It took four years and thousands of deaths on both sides, to confirm the inevitable result. A crushing defeat.
His initial strategy was to defend the perimeter of all the adjoining states. The geography was too big and the resources too small. By the time he and his generals agreed upon a strategy of accumulating resources and focusing their combined strength to impact the enemy tactically, inflict wounds, and break their will to fight, it was too late.
Determining the best solution within the confines of limited resources is the most important entrepreneurial responsibility. If you can do it, success is possible. If you can’t or don’t, failure is a certainty.
As businesses or organizations grow, the dynamic tension between delivering a great service or outstanding product and limited resources is omnipresent. The demands of “we have to” or “why can’t we?” echo throughout the entrepreneurial halls. These demands and the tensions inherent in them are hardest for the entrepreneur and business founder. He or she dreams of explosive growth and the new opportunities and affirmations that come with it. Unless the organizational leader can say no, the desire for perfection will lead to failure. You must walk the tightrope and resolve the tensions as you go.
When your staff has an emotional commitment to your marketplace without a financial oar in the water, the tensions are accelerated. They are being asked to make tradeoffs between next and reality without the bumper guards of financial reality. A tough spot for all involved.
Organizations and businesses have this critical allocation problem. As do individuals and families. How much to spend on the new house, or the new wardrobe, or on the next vacation is a dialogue around the family dinner table. If the decisions are not made well, or even ignored, the results can be terrible.
An employee’s real value, and an entrepreneur’s success quotient is the ability to make those tradeoffs and judgments in such a way that the marketplace is served and the business, organization, or even ministry not only survives, but thrives. In some ways, this process is reflected in how the great hockey player Wayne Gredsky describes the way he played hockey. “I focus on where the puck will be, not where it is.” This focus on the “right now” is what most do to focus on where we want to be, how we are going to get there, and the costs associated with the journey. And this is the chief challenge for every business, organization or ministry.
How do we know what is our best? Even in hindsight it is confusing. You can do your best and win. You can do your best and lose. Are both “bests” equal? They may be. When you do your best, and lose, it is often because winning is a team function not an individual one. You may have done your individual best but the team did not.
When Jesus used the example of the Vine and the Branches, he was talking about the church, his Kingdom here on earth, as a team with unity. While each branch is part of the team each branch is different in skill and capacity. When we are able to bring unity to the branches, the team will function well and be at its best. The team too has boundaries and limitations within which it must work. Similar economics work for a team as they do for the individual.
Doing your best with what you have to achieve goals and impact lives sums up how we are to live. This lifestyle reflects our response to the amazing grace of Jesus. Doing our best is both practical, down to earth, and spiritual. When we reflect Jesus to others, we are indeed, doing our best.
Stay with us as we journey, doing our best, loving the least, and encouraging all.