After you’ve done your best work…

…you really have no choice but to do it again. – Seth Godin (everything in italics from here on are Seth Godin’s words).

Who out there has tried to accomplish something, over and over, and yet somehow, you’re still at square one?

After you’ve written the best memo/blog post/novel/screenplay you can possibly imagine writing, after you’ve contributed your pithiest insight or gone on your best blind date…

You are sure that this time, you’ve done it; you’ve put in all your heart, all your soul, and everything you’ve got, and this time you’re going to take that giant leap to the next level.

and it still hasn’t worked…

At first, you’re numb, blatantly in denial. Waiting. Changes of heart happen all the time. Maybe, just maybe, just maybe…

Then at some point, the Maybe chain breaks, and –

You really have no choice but to do it again. To do your best work again, as impossible and unfair as that seems.

Well Seth, you and I know well that there is more than one choice. People make other choices all the time – we stamp our feet, shrug our shoulders, sigh, cry, and very much believe, this is impossible and unfair.

Except, in one regard, you are right. There’s only one choice if we want life to keep moving forward. To celebrate, dance, and get the remarkable rush of gratitude that comes with knowing I did not give up.

It compounds over time. Best work followed by best work followed by more best work is far more useful and generous than merely doing your best work once and insisting we understand you.

Best work, or hishtadlut as some call it, builds upon itself. As Viktor Frankl famously said, “success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than one’s self.”

It’s the same with hishtadlut. Sometimes, I get so caught up in doing the best I can do, that I overlook the tiny steps that lead to actually doing my best; the mundane everyday things like standing with straight posture, making a list of the 2-3 things I will accomplish today no matter what, reflecting before jumping into tefillah…the little things that keep me intentional throughout the day. Because days turns into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and months turn into years…

Best work isn’t solely defined by outcomes. Ultimately, best work is that part of me that knows I was deliberate in how I lived today. Learned helplessness is real, but so is resilience. Feed the resilience. Get up again. See only one choice. Do it again.

Read Seth Godin’s original posting here.

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