Something odd happened as I was having a conversation with a friend and I haven’t been able to get it off of my mind. My friend and I are known for our high energy exchanges and we don’t necessarily finish one topic of conversation before jumping to another. So on this day there was nothing odd about the fact that we tackled about ten topics in our first ten minutes together. But, on this day I asked what I thought was an easy question and that’s when something happened that had never happened before; neither my friend nor I had a word to say in response to the question. That was really odd.
The question I asked was, “When are you at your best?”
My friend didn’t say a word, but he looked at me as if I had just asked him to explain the physics behind a nuclear reactor. He tilted his head to the side like my dog Buttercup does when she hears a siren or high-pitched noise, and then he let out a nervous giggle. He then shuffled a little in his chair for a few seconds and said, “I’ve honestly never thought about that. I don’t know when I am at my best. Maybe you should ask my wife.” We both laughed, but then he came back to the question and remarked that he was embarrassed that he didn’t know how to answer such a seemingly “easy” question.
True to form, our conversation took another quick turn and we began discussing the upcoming weekend’s ACC football games and we made our predictions regarding the winners and losers. Pretty soon after that, we had to be on our way so we said our goodbyes and offered up a quick quip about being at our best…whatever that is!
The question stayed with me and I kept wondering why this “easy” question is so hard to answer. In search of an answer, I consulted the dictionary for a definition of the word best and found entries like “one’s maximum effort” and “under the most favorable circumstances.” While reading the definitions helped a little, what helped most was being quiet and thinking back to the times in my life when I have felt best about how I was putting my life together. After lots of reflection it became clear. I am at my best when I am at peace.
When I am at peace I give my maximum effort to whatever I am doing without judging or comparing my effort to the effort of others. When I am at peace my best effort is enough and that’s regardless of the outcome. When I am at peace I am not chasing the illusion of perfect. So, after quite a long time I have an answer to the question, “When are you at your best?” With this clarity, I hope to be at my best more often and I certainly welcome the peace that will be at my core paving the way for that to happen.
When are you at your best? It’s really worth knowing.
We are creating our lives…one decision at a time.