I listened, wrote it down, thought about it, and years later after writing about donkey basketball, I think I have the answer. The answer to this:

“What if you do your best and it don’t do nothing?”

– Kagman High School Senior 2010

It will do something. It is true, of course, that when you try your best it’s quite likely that you will still lose, still fail, still fall off. It is true that when you do your best you might not get the job, your spouse might leave you or die, your kids might hate you or get run over by a car. It is true that despite all your attempts, all your efforts, all your best – that things won’t work out like you planned, like you hoped, like you wanted. Most likely this is the case. Your best isn’t going to give you perfection. I don’t accept, however, that it won’t do nothing.

This is what your best will and can or could do. Your best will change you, your best can change those around you, and your best could result in something near, or approaching, what you had in mind, what you hoped. Your best can create a list of cans or shoulds or maybes. When a could doesn’t work out – when what you aim for isn’t hit – you’ll be tempted to say that your best didn’t do anything – didn’t do nothing. You’re wrong. There is one will. It will do this:

If you do your best, and know it, it’s out of your hands. You can sleep and know you’ve done all you can. It’s up to God or fate or chance or whatever view of the universe you hold. If you truly do your best, you’re gaining momentum, you’re doing the work, you’re laying the foundation, you’re preparing yourself, you’re living at your full potential. If you do your best, you’re truly human, truly alive.

Ultimately, though, it’s the wrong question. The right question isn’t what if it doesn’t work, or even, what if it does? The right questions are these:

  1. What should I be doing?
  2. Am I doing my best?

If you answer those correctly, there’s no way it won’t do nothing.


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