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Redefine the circumstances

I'm currently reading 'This was a man', the last of the Clifton chronicles, by one of my favourite authors, Jeffrey Archer. Archer's stories, despite their twists and turns that can match a Bollywood script at times, are very predictable. The reason I love his books are not because of the stories themselves, which are good entertainment, but for the characters of the protagonists.

In each of his books, he has at least one character whose personality, worldview, character traits and conduct are the ideal anyone would wish to achieve. And in the Clifton chronicles, the primary couple in Harry and Emma Clifton are handed this status.

When are we at our ideal states? When is our product at its ideal state? When is our customer service at its ideal state? When is it that we try our best?

All through my life, I have noticed that the circumstances under which someone tries their best is when there is a presentation to a CEO, or when there is a demo to a potentially lucrative client, or there is a coach watching the game in the hope of scouting for talent, or there is a prospect of improving grades significantly by doing well in an exam, and so on.

We put on that extra touch to have an impeccably clean house and get out the good china when guests visit. We put in longer hours to deliver quicker results when a promotion or a raise is up for grabs. We deliver the best service possible when a CEO or someone she trusts tries out our product.

When a colleague asks for a favour, or when a new intern needs guidance, or when a lay customer calls customer service, we promise to do our best. What we leave out is 'under the circumstances'.

What I like about Harry & Emma Clifton, or Harry Potter, or Batman is that they don't have to mention 'under the circumstances'. When they say that they are going to do the best they can, when they say they will put in their best effort, we know that they will actually put in their best effort. Irrespective of the circumstances.

But the rest of us mortals who can only hope to get anywhere close to that ideal, have to always qualify what we say with an 'under the circumstances' when we say that we will put in our best effort.

While we can't skip over to our ideal selves with the flip of a switch, what we can hope to do is to redefine the circumstances. Such that, even 'under the circumstances', we are doing better and closer to the ideal.

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