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At any given time, I find myself reading more than one book simultaneously. I recently returned to Brené Brown’s Rising Strong – where positive psychology meets southern-style truth telling. The chapter I have read three times asks an important question: “Do you believe that, generally, people are doing the best they can?”
If you manage people in your work, or if you have to work with others in any capacity at all, take a moment before answering this question.
Many days, I wonder if others are doing the best they can.
As we grow in our careers, we know that work is loaded with complexities, and not just the ones that are job related. Step back – ask yourself “Am I doing the best I can, all of the time?”
Most days, I am doing the best I can.
If we, generally, think we are doing our best all of the time, then why are we so quick to assume others are not? If our best work is impacted by other life circumstances – aging parents, a new baby, health concerns, divorce, disinterest in our job – why do we not allow those same factors to impact others’ best work?
Make no mistake – this in no way suggests that we should forgo expectations, performance management and accountability. Sometimes, someone’s best isn’t enough for the role they have or for an organization’s needed outcomes. But before you assume the worst – before you treat an employee unkindly or dismiss their value entirely – pause. The best they can do may look and sound differently than the best you can do. And, for any of us, today’s best might be a shade different than yesterday’s best, or tomorrow’s.
So, as my mother says to all who leave her company: “Do your best.” And consider the likely possibility that others are doing theirs.