How Yoga Taught Me Not Do My Best & ​Do This Instead

“First, say to yourself what you would be and then do what you have to do.” ~ Epictetus

In the book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, the fourth agreement states that you should always do your best.

Always do your best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

This got me thinking. What exactly is one’s best?

Before my Saturday yoga class, if you had asked me whether I could do the plow pose (illustrated below), I would have told you no. If you asked the same question after the class, the answer would have been yes.


Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 4.00.16 PM

What changed? Nothing changed. Yoga has taught me that it’s never about sticking the pose but about progressing towards it. Not aiming to do my best but to do what needs to be done.

I did not go to yoga with the intention to do the plow pose. Nor did I go with the intention to do my best. I went with the intention to do what needed to be done. The yogi stated what needed to be done. Go into plow position and make sure your toes touch the floor. I did as instructed. I did what needed to be done.

Had I focused on just doing my best, my toes would never have touched the floor. I would have stopped where I always stop. Legs parallel to the floor. For in my mind, that was my best.

“Men do less than they ought, unless they do all they can.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

So what if doing your best is actually a self-serving attitude camouflaging mediocrity? What if aiming just to do your best is creating a little comfort wiggle room to actually be less than your best? What if, instead of doing one’s best, one aimed to do what just needed to be done.

To do what needs to be done requires the following:

1. Be in a state of Permanent Readiness

“Nobody’s a natural. You work hard to get good and then work to get better…” ~Paul Coffey

Be ready to act and accomplish. No over thinking or over analyzing.  Readiness doesn’t mean just knowing the foundational basics. It means having the right attitude and confidence.

2. Have Confidence

“Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” ~Richard Kline

Don’t just think you can, know that you can. Confidence comes from building the required skillset and attaching it to the right mindset. From being vested in one’s true progress. From putting in the time.

3. Develop Mental Fortitude

You can’t become committed or consistent with a weak mind. How many workouts have you missed because your mind, not your body, told you you were tired? How many reps have you missed out on because your mind said, “Nine reps is enough. Don’t worry about the tenth.” Probably thousands for most people, including myself. And 99% are due to weakness of the mind, not the body. ~Drew Shamrock

A skillset without the right mindset will always come up short. Hence the requirement that it be paired with mental fortitude. Also known as grit. Grit is the perseverance and passion that drives us to achieve long–term goals. It is what distinguishes star performers from the rest.

  • Grit works off a schedule and doesn’t wait for motivation.
  • Grit builds daily habits that enable you to overcome challenges and distractions.
  • Grit is not swayed by negative feedback.
  • Grit doesn’t miss workouts or assignments.
  • Grit delivers on a consistent basis.

I don’t know about you, but when I just allow myself to do my best, knowing I can do better, is when I get swathed with self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

It’s a new month. Are you going to continue to do your best or are you going to lean into excellence and do what needs to be done?

Thanks for reading! If this post resonated with you be sure to like it below and share it so others may benefit from it.


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