Sometimes, I think it is all in the way you ask a question.  When I ask the question like this, “Did you do your best?” I most often get a  “Yes!”  But when I follow up with, “What does your best look like?” I get a lot of blank stares. However, when I ask, “On a scale of 1-10 (1 meaning very little effort and 10 meaning maximum effort) where did your effort land?” The answer, oftentimes, is very different.

We are funny that way. I found as a coach that the best results I get usually come from clarity —  not only in how I ask a question, but also in helping my clients to see and understand what they mean by their language.

This concept of “best effort” matters, because if you really don’t know what it looks and feels like to you, how can you know when “you’ve done your best?”

When you are able to recognize your best, you will get better results faster

Back when I was in college, I had one of those professors! Do you know which kind I mean? The kind that just wants to play “gotcha” in each and every class. So this prof required that In order to pass each of the four exams in an undergrad history course, you needed to get a 70/100  or better.

Don’t get me wrong, I was committed to studying … I just didn’t want to do any more work than was required to get the grade I wanted.

So I studied my rear off, because even though I knew a lot of the material cold, I didn’t know it all. Finally, the day came to take the test, and again, I didn’t know every answer, but I did know enough to feel confident that I passed the darn thing.

Well, when I got my test back, I was stunned to see the score of a 93! I had done my best, but I was really only trying for a 70! (Back then, I just didn’t think I needed to get A’s in everything!) What I learned in that moment was that the amount of studying I did and the effort I made on test day = the score I got on my test. The formula looked like this:

Score = ET + ES

ET = Effort on test day, ES = Effort of Studying

I would have saved myself a lot of stress and study time if I had known what my best felt like and looked like before I began preparing for the exam. Now I could decide how much time and attention I wanted to use for the next exam that was coming up! I have to say, I sort of got addicted to my A’s after that. It was an amazing feeling to know I cracked the study code for myself.

What you evaluate gets addressed. What gets addressed gets you results — Christine Jeffrey

So I came up with a way to test whether I was doing my best, and over time, I was able to recognize three areas that mattered most to my performance: my focus, my energy, and my knowledge.


  1. Know Your Outcome – What is the goal you want to achieve? Is it a test score, a deadline, a quality of output? How do you know when it will be achieved?
  2. Test your focus – how much time and attention is required to achieve that outcome? On a scale of 1 – 10, how much is it? Just like a scientist, track how much effort it requires
  3. Test your energy – How much energy is required to sustain that kind of focus? On a scale of 1 – 10, how much is it? What does it feel like in your body? Track how much you need
  4. Test your knowledge – How do you know how much knowledge you need? On a scale of 1 – 10, how much is it? Track how much you need to get the results you want

Once you’ve done this cycle, you will get a baseline of what “your best” in any situation means to you. When you have that information, you can call your best up whenever you need it.

You don’t have to take my word for it! Try it for yourself and see and let me know how it goes in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading and until next time,

Remember, you are so much more than who you believe yourself to be!