The smartest guy I know is my college roommate Bart, the Physics major. After college he went on to Princeton and was the first person in his class to get a doctorate.

Along the way, one of the requirements was a second language proficiency test. I believe he chose French.

When, after very little practice, he took the test, the test administrator gave him scoring pass, but with pretty strong hesitancy – “Okay, . . . I . . . guess I’ll pass you.”

Bart’s response (when he told me about this later) was a little surprising to me. He didn’t hang his head in shame at barely getting by. Instead he said “Yes! I did the minimum work possible!”

He had spent his time focusing on more important things. He clearly didn’t regret trying his best at language proficiency.

So at work – maybe it’s not as important to keep an immaculate desk as it is to do a good job of helping a coworker. So trying your best at keeping a clean desk is not wise.

Or at home, maybe helping your wife with the discipline and admonition of your children is the most important, so trying your best at backyard landscaping is not wise.

Be judicious in where you decide to try your best.

. . . How’s that? Too preachy?