An Internal Standard


Do you need an audience? Is perfection, is excellence the goal because your best is the only thing that will satisfy you or is excellence relative to those around you.

The people we consider great have very little in common with one another. The one thing that all of them have is an internal compass, a north star within themselves to find their way despite the fickle nature of the opinions of the mob around them. Both the cheers and heckles are equally untrustworthy.

As yourself if you require the cheers of the crowd or whether you privately revel in knowing your best was all you had. I have mentioned this previously, but it is worth repeating. The phrase “just do your best” has been hijacked and distorted. It has become an excuse for not winning, for taking some of the pressure off of meeting a more objective goal such as a place in a race or a score on the test. “Just do your best.” There should be, there can be, no higher bar than that. What this phrase says is that you leave it ALL on the floor. That at some point you fail, not because the effort was absent but because the personal limit of possible and impossible had been reached. “Just do your best.” That is call to be exhausted at the end of the day. That is the desire to keep going even when there is no one else above you to beat you and no contest to measure your worth. “Just do your best.” That is the internal compass that only you can read, meaning that you and you alone are the only one who will ever know if you are truly at your best. Your mediocrity may look like another’s excellence. Or your excellence may look like some else’s mediocrity. “Just do your best.” This says that it does not matter if your best is below average or so far above the best that no one else could hope to beat you. You are the goal. You are the measure. And only you will know when that goal has been reached. Your internal compass is all the audience you require. The cacophony of any audience is then, superfluous.

There is a quote that roughly goes “the heroes of today can only be revealed tomorrow.” Playing for the favor of the mob is not the way to find truth, happiness, or fame. Rather it is a sure way to lose yourself amidst the contradictory and competing advice.