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“I do the very best I know how; the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.” – Abraham Lincoln.

I love this quote by Abraham Lincoln. But, I’d also like to edit it. I’d love to delete the words, “the very best I know how.” It would just make things way more comfortable for me.

The things I know how to do are pretty solid. I know how to ride a bike, do a push up, cook a pound of hamburger, drive a car and tie my shoes. I’ve learned how to do all those things and I can’t “unlearn” them. I may be rusty when it comes to doing some of those things, (especially push ups), because I don’t practice doing them every day. But, the knowledge is there, without much grey area.

Where there’s space for negotiation is in the “can” department. As I look for ways to apply Mr. Lincoln’s quote to today’s leg of my journey, the thought of doing “the very best I can,” gives me way more “but” room. And, I love to wiggle my “but.”  

For instance, my plan for today may include shopping only around the outer aisle of the grocery store, not opening my eating window until 2 pm and going to bed without dessert. As soon as I make my plans, the “buts” begin to wiggle their way in…

(While grocery shopping): “I know I didn’t intend to shop down this aisle…

but I may want to grab this for the future.”

but everybody in the keto community is eating this stuff and seems to get away with it.”

but everybody outside the keto community is eating stuff that’s way worse.”  

but _________________________________________.” (I’m going to go ahead and leave a  blank space here for any future “buts” I need to come up with to legitimize not realizing  my goals.)

(At noon): “I know I didn’t intend to eat until 2 pm… 

but my morning has been crazy.”

but I am starving.”

but I just need a little something.”

(At bedtime): “I know I didn’t intend to have dessert tonight…

but I had a hard day. I deserve this.”

but I had a great day. I want to celebrate.”

but I don’t want to feel deprived. If I feel deprived, I won’t stick to this way of eating.”

As you can see, those are some big “buts.” And, they’re not even all the “buts” I face in a 24-hour period. My feelings and emotions are constantly trying to squeeze all kinds of “buts” into my day to excuse me from the commitments I have made to myself, (without the pesky guilt of abandoning my plans).

It may seem benevolent and self-preserving to give myself “a way out” when I feel trapped into doing what I said I would do. But, it’s like spending 24 hours a day with the worst coach in the world: a coach who doesn’t expect you to get any better, doesn’t make you practice, and doesn’t even bring up your name in the locker room at halftime when you’ve been scoring points for the opposing team. 

Can you imagine Vince Lombardi – the guy who said “Winners never quit and quitters never win” – coaching that way? 

No way. Because like Lincoln, Lombardi knew the distance between “know” and “can” is compromise.

The size of my compromise determines the distance between what I know and what I will achieve. If I don’t compromise, what I know to do and what I can accomplish suddenly become close neighbors. As I give more space to compromise, I distance myself from achievement. I may still realize my goals. But, now I’m also going to face the draining obstacle of wanting to give up altogether, discouraged by grinding out success at a snail’s pace.  

This would be a great place to end this Fearless Friday post. There’s a challenge in it that’s challenging enough. I can work on working out compromise from my life. I’ll be really good today, finish this week out like a champ. 

But, that’s not the end of Mr. Lincoln’s quote: 

“I do the very best I know how; the very best I can…

… and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”

Oh man, what “end” are we talking about here? 

Are we talking about the end of fall, (so I can become lax during the holidays?) Are we talking about the end of my current weight plateau? Or, does the “end” Lincoln refer to mean knowing better and doing better is now my way of life…every day?…for the rest of my life?

The answer is what makes Mr. Lincoln quotable. People don’t often make history for giving 100% ten percent of the time. A great leader honors their commitments with endurance. That’s what wins your team the Super Bowl.

Of course, two big “buts” just waltzed in to my thoughts: But, I’m no Abraham Lincoln. But, I’m no Vince Lombardi.”

I am the coach I spend the most time with, though. I hold the playbook. And, while I am not the President of the United States, I do preside over my health goals. So, how I lead my life every day matters. 

How you lead your life matters to your health goals, too.

This week, you have the opportunity to permanently change the distance between your “know” and your “can.”

So, what do you say? 

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