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I think it's important to remember that "best" is a relative term -- "best" does not exist except by comparison to something else, specifically, something that is *lacking* by comparison. There is no one, singular standard for what constitutes an person's "best," and one's "best" can change from day to day depending on a variety of factors that are not always within a person's ability to control (for example, illness or lack of sleep can strongly & negatively affect my ability to do and be my best). While I find no comfort in the phrase, "they did their best," the phrase can still hold truth. One's "best" might be wholly inadequate for the situation, but that doesn't mean it's not that person's "best." (Unlike one's best, one's adequacy to perform a given task *is* rated against a singular standard -- performance of the task is either adequate or it's not.) It is unfortunate that the phrase is often used to sugar-coat a bad situation. Perhaps it would be better, or would make the truth of the phrase more obvious, if the expression were expanded to recognize the given situation more fully, such as "they did their best, but their best was inadequate for my needs." For me, that is an easier jumping-off point to move forward in providing for myself and meeting my own needs. And in moving forward, I experience growth. is now following The Typepad Team
Feb 21, 2011