All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. – William Shakespeare
What does that mean?
This verse continues by detailing our places on the stage, as we grow and as we age. While it breaks things into seven steps (dare I say stages?), that is an arbitrary measure.
To me, one of the most important things to remember is that this day, this time, is a performance, not a rehearsal. We must do our best each time, in each place we are, for there is no second chance.
The other thing I try to remember is that we are all in this play together. While some may lay claim to highest billing, their curtain call will not be delayed for their higher billing.
Together, they say to me to live my life as fully and completely as I can, for the phase of my life I am in, which is the second to last, per the Bard. And I plan to do my best at that, how about you?
Why is doing your best important?
We have all heard stories about the wishes of the proverbial dying man. Have you ever heard them say they did too good a job, acting their part throughout their life? I haven’t. It’s always about the things they should have done better or done which they did not do at all.
They treated their life like an early rehearsal, perhaps thinking they’d have time to memorize their lines or learn their part better at a later time. But their time ran out. Perhaps they were stuck in an earlier step of their life, and missed it completely. That can happen, and nearly did to me.
If we don’t do our best to be all we can be at this point in our lives, we run the risk of living with regret for the rest of our lives. Who wants to bounce a grandchild on their knee and recommend that they only apply themselves lightly to their life, rather than doing their best?
Also consider what happens on the playground happens in our adult lives. Sometimes a kid is picked first for their social skills, other times for their knowledge or sports skills. But those who apply themselves, who do their best are usually picked before those who do not.
Where can I apply this in my life?
While not every promotion goes to the person who did their best, the large part of them do. If two people both do their best, one is likely to be a little better than the other, right? And sometimes a promotion is about a group of skills, where each candidate has strengths and weaknesses.
But one thing is usually quite obvious, the person who is not doing their best is rarely the person who is promoted, right? Yes, we all know of counter-examples, but that’s not the point, is it? The play we are presently in is playing right now. Do we want our reviews to show us doing our best, or being slackers?
There are many aspects in my life where I am not doing my best. In many cases, it’s because I don’t put a priority on it, as there are always other things to do. For example, I enjoy music, but don’t have time to practice the guitar, trombone, or keyboards. I have other things to do at the moment.
To me, that’s acceptable, because I’m working hard at doing my best in other parts of my life. My role as a father outweighs (in my mind) my role as musician. Yes there are those who can do both, but with everything else in my life, music is a lesser role for the moment. In another five years, perhaps.
What are you doing at less than your best in your life? What could you stand to improve? Where could you up your game a bit and move from the choir onto the stage, or even into the spotlight? Where are you not doing your best to fill the part you are presently playing?
We can learn from the other actors on the stage. If you see one doing something you’d like to do, ask them for advice or for help. And always provide help the others who may ask you for it. We are each better at something than at least one other person at least one thing in our lives. And we can be a mentor, and teach that one thing to them.
Can you imagine a world-wide play, where everyone was doing their best to play their part as well as they possibly can? How much better off do you think the world would be if even a few of us took up the challenge and took our parts to the next level? How does that play change?
The world is a busy and hectic place. It can be easy to forget our part, our lines, or even our role in the play. But we are all a part of it, an integral and necessary part. The question is if you will do your best, or if you will choose not to do so.