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My Favorite 10-Word Slogan to Face Challenges (and not Fall Prey of Self-Defeating Excuses)

-Damcho Gyaltsen, MA TTIP student from Spain

Since blog posts are one of the least popular means of sharing information on the Internet (which is a real pity) and I really don’t want you to miss the slogan I was referring to in the clickbait title, let’s just cut to the chase.

It is:

“Do the best you can in the circumstances you’re in.”

Of course, I didn’t coin this brilliant Loyong-like motto. My teacher Khenpo Rinchen Gyaltsen did, and it was his own teacher, Khenpo Pema Wangdak (one of the most senior and respected lamas in the Sakya Tradition), who had inspired him.

Let’s take a closer look at the two dimensions the catchphrase refers to:

  1. The best you can, a.k.a. the personal qualities you have at your disposal. Each of us has our own share of life experience, intelligence, health, empathy, ability to accurately predict the future, inner self-mastery, and so on. While these “tools” are not perfect (like us), they are still functional enough to help get us through many situations–only if we’re willing to use them to their full extent.
  1. Circumstances, a.k.a. our context. We all play a part in different scenes every day, each of them presenting us with certain people, resources, and limitations. Most of the time, though, we have very little control over the factors governing the context we’re immersed in.

But let’s be honest. When faced with a difficult task, most of us fall prey to either labeling it as “too hard” or ourselves as “too incompetent”. In that way, we have the perfect excuse for washing our hands of the situation, for not doing anything about it, for fleeing, or for pretending that it was never there in the first place.

With that kind of attitude, the only winner is our toxic low self-esteem. It lets us off the hook and allows us to keep thinking of ourselves as “competent people who never fail”… because we haven’t even tried in the first place.

By adopting this 10-word slogan, that kind of self-defeating cheating is very, very difficult to sustain.

Why?

Well, “the best you can do” is far from “the best” defined by your unrealistic expectations, by your self-image or by a society obsessed with continuous accomplishment. On the contrary, it is grounded in a very basic, common sense approach: use what you have, and use it as best as possible. Period.

And in terms of “in the circumstance you’re in,” we’re simply acknowledging that conventional reality has certain parameters. Sometimes they are a help, sometimes they are a hindrance, and sometimes present us with an unavoidable or even insurmountable barrier. If we can influence the obstructing ones, great. And if not, then we just abide by the rules of the game until they (inevitably) change.

In this way, Do the best you can in the circumstances you’re in also invites us to let go of our misconceptions around what we think both we and the situation should be. Instead, we look straight into what reality is and simply do our best… knowing that although neither we nor the result will be perfect, it’s still very much worth the try.

So, as a closing reflection, I invite you to take a few moments to consider:

  1. What your most common challenges are
  2. To what extent you can best work withthe situation they occur in, and
  3. How you can maximize your abilities to bring your best to the game.

All your comments and experiences are most welcome in the comments 🙂

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