If there’s one thing that makes me roll my eyes as I scroll Instagram, it’s the fit chicks and inspiration ambassadors that litter the place with their BS messaging. They’ll take a strategically bad shot of a part of their body (strategic meaning they say it’s bad, but it’s not actually bad) and talk about how everyone has imperfections, how we need to love ourselves more and that we need to give ourselves a break if it all feels a bit too hard. The message seems so right, because it tells us everything we want to hear: that life is hard, that it’s not our fault we don’t have the results we want, and the solution is to just forgive ourselves and be happy.
I hate this kind of messaging, because it seems as though it’s offering people the solution they need, when the reality is that it’s just to make their followers happy and make money off of them later through paid advertising. Either that or the poster is an attention seeker just wanting adoration and validation. But the part that I hate the most is that it’s just not true, and more than anything the people that look at this stuff and respond with sycophantic garbage like “OMG so true babe” and “you’re such a beautiful soul”, could do with hearing two simple words instead:
I bet you’re stunned by that, right? Some of you are probably thinking “hey Pete, go screw yourself, you don’t know anything about me or my life”. But here’s the thing. Right now it’s August, which means half of this year is gone. I want you to think back to what resolutions or promises you might have made to yourself on New Year’s Eve, what plans or goals you had. How many of those have you actually made happen, or made solid progress on? How many of those have you even started on? I’ll wager that it’s very few, because as soon as life gets too hard or busy, you bail.
What’s even worse is if you made a decision to go after something, and you’ve spent your whole time doing busywork around it, instead of making a real plan and executing. A great example of this recently is a young lady known as “no s*** Taylor”. She called the Gary V show and talked a whole bunch about how much she hustles, that she wants to be a millionaire by 25, that she feels hopeless when she looks at people like Kendall Jenner. Gary gave her some abrupt feedback and told her she had a month, and to get off social media and get to work, because the world would be watching. I had a look at Taylor’s Instagram page and then her blog. She has a post about her 30 days and what she got up to. It was a bunch of garbage. What she did in a month, anyone truly motivated could have done in the space of a week.
One of the things she listed as doing was creating a hashtag on Instagram to keep herself accountable. Seriously? That’s not work, that’s mental masturbation. That hasn’t stopped a whole bunch of people commenting, telling her she’s an inspiration, that she’s crushing it and so on. It’s like this great collective delusion where everyone constantly slaps each other on the back because no one wants to call anyone out for being full of crap. Gary V told her on that initial call that she was lying to herself, and it’s clear that she’s continuing to do it. She’s probably telling herself right now that she’s doing her best, instead of being honest and realising that she could do better.
One of the best lessons I learned during my military service was to simply be better, every single day. If you get told your shoes are dirty during a dress inspection, don’t offer excuses and don’t rationalise in the hope of looking better. Shut up, take the criticism on the chin and be better next time. If your time on the last run wasn’t great, don’t offer up the excuse that you ate a bad burrito last night. Suck it up and be better. Excellence and achievement are daily habits — they are not rewards or the endgame. You get them by practicing every single day.
“But I’m doing my best!” you protest. Let me tell you, those 5 words are the siren song of the loser. To quote one of my favourite movies:
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“I’ll do my best”
“Your best? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and *ahem* the prom queen”.
Because the truth is that if you aren’t doing your best, you likely know it deep down, despite whatever protest you might make to the contrary. You can’t say with honesty that you’re doing your best when so much of your time is accounted for by Netflix, social media, gaming or drinking. If you aren’t actually using your time to accomplish what you want out of life, you aren’t doing your best. So the solution to that is to get it out of your head that you are doing your best, and be honest with yourself. The next time you think or go to say those 5 words, instead tell yourself the truth: I could do better.
Because nobody makes a remarkable life by telling themselves they’re doing their best. I don’t mean remarkable in the sense of being someone famous or rich either. I mean remarkable in the sense of living the life that you truly want and that makes you happy. That’s remarkable, because so few people actually do it. It’s rare because for the most part, people just lay in the rut that they’ve carved out for themselves, lamenting that they never did better, instead of striving for what they want.
Do you want to actually achieve things? From now on when you fail at something, don’t protest about how you were just doing your best. Ask yourself instead, how could I have done better? Because that’s the only way you actually get better — it doesn’t happen by sitting there wishing for it, or lamenting the fact that your life isn’t what you want it to be. You have to start asking yourself the uncomfortable questions, the ones that leave you feeling ashamed for letting yourself down. At the end of all that comes the most important question of all, which can turn everything around:
How can I be better?
I ask myself that question every 6 months. I take a look at what I’ve achieved, what I haven’t, and how I’m tracking in different areas of my life. I realised about a year ago that my efforts as a father were average and that I needed to up my game. I didn’t let myself off by saying that work was too busy, that I was too tired, that I was doing my best. Even if I was doing my best, it wasn’t good enough. It’s the same with work, it’s the same with everything. People complain that they aren’t getting what they want because of some external factor, without ever asking how they can improve their part in it.
We’ve got to get past this current attitude of everyone being equal and that we all deserve what we want out of life just because we’re alive. It’s logically and spiritually bankrupt, because it creates a culture where people never reach their full potential or get what they truly want out of life. Instead of looking inwards and asking themselves what they can do to make their own lives better, it causes them to look outwards and ask why someone else is doing better, or why they haven’t been helped more, or that it’s unfair. Instead of individual empowerment and the will to improve one’s life, a victim mentality ensues. “Life isn’t fair, because I’m just doing my best and I’m not getting anywhere”.
Take an honest look at your day right now, and ask yourself if you did your best:
If you’re trying to lose weight, did you take the elevator at every opportunity, did you park right next to the store so you didn’t have to walk, did you have a beer that you really didn’t need with a dinner that wasn’t very nutritious? Guess what, it doesn’t matter that you had a bad day at the office, you can do better.
If you’re trying to get promoted, did you spend a lot of time talking to colleagues, did you scroll social media, did you not really get much done? Guess what, you can do better.
Extrapolate this to any situation where you wish you were doing better than you are right now. Instead of telling yourself that you’re doing your best, ask yourself if you could do better. If you’re honest, you’ve just been given an incredible gift: choice. Because now it’s on you as to whether or not you want to do something about it. You can step up, or not, it’s totally up to you. You now own whatever choice you’ve made — if you step up and decide to be better, you own the fruits of that labour. If not, you own the consequences of that too, and you don’t get to whine about your situation anymore, because you chose it.
So the next time you feel like whining about your situation, don’t utter the 5 words that losers do. Instead ask yourself, can I be better?