“‘Doing the best I can’… is actually not the same as, ‘doing everything I can.’ When we tell people we’re doing the best we can, we’re actually saying, ‘I’m doing the best I’m comfortable doing.’ As you’ve probably discovered, great work makes us uncomfortable.”
—Seth Godin

Several years ago, while working with a group of employees on how to connect their company’s values to specific demonstrable behaviors, the quote above arrived in my email inbox.

During the training, while circling around the small groups that were gathered, I overheard one group say – in full agreement – “We always do the best we can, that’s all we can do.” Everyone in the group nodded in agreement.

Then, remembering Godin’s quote, I posed the next question: “How do you define ‘your best’?” The group described their best as “getting the work done” and “meeting the defined expectations of the sales person and the client.”

While it sounded good, I asked the group a follow up question: “Is doing the best you can, the same as excellence (which was a stated value of the company)?” A reflective silence resulted.

Delivering excellence demands more than just doing your best. Great work demands a sense of urgency. Excellence demands an unyielding impatience with the status quo along with a laser focus and unrelenting pursuit to “do everything” to achieve my/our goals and vision.

As the day continued the employees defined the shifts they each needed to make in both their attitudes and behaviors. Collectively, they shifted from “talking the talk” to a willingness to “walk the walk” together. They agreed to collectively arrive at living their values together as a community.

This week are you ready to take action to practice making the shift? Are you willing to do your best each day or will you do everything you can to be the best?