Stop saying, “The best we can.” 5 things to say instead

Often in an interview we ask, “What would you do if you were approached by a guest who complained about the care of one of our animals.” The answers are mostly the same.  “I’d tell them about our enrichment, husbandry standards, and training. I’d tell them about how we’re AZA accredited and we are held to the highest expectations in the field.  I might tell them about the SSP and how we participate.”

Inevitably, a large number of the applicants sum it up by saying, “We do the best we can.”

Wait. I’m sorry, what?

I’ve never met a single keeper, trainer, or aquarist, well one that I would hire, that’s just doing the best they can.

I hear this same thing as a mom, too.  “I’m doing the best I can.” I hear this when the house is ripped to shreds, the kids are being sassy, and dinner has been fast-food for the last month.  The mom that says, “I’m doing the best I can,” is worried she’s going to be judged by someone for not measuring up.

There’s no doubt in our current climate, many of you feel the same way. Judgement from our peers and our critics seems to be imminent.  Which is why it’s so important to stop saying, “We do the best we can.”

“We do the best we can,” implies that someone else could do better.  Or worse, that you can not do better.  It sounds like defeat. It sounds like an excuse.

We’re doing better than that.  We’re gladiators.  We’re relentless in our pursuit of “better.”  We’re going to conference after conference to learn what else is happening out there.  We’re asking questions, analyzing behavior, evaluating diets, observing enrichment, and training, and training, and training.  We’re doing amazing and we’re always working to be better.  We have nothing to be ashamed of and even if we do, we’re going to work on it with the knowledge and expertise of this community.

So don’t tear yourself down. Don’t sell yourself short. Continue to do the best and then be better.

Here are five things you can say instead of, “We’re doing the best we can.”

Share your information about your standards, your enrichment, your diets, your latest research project, your training program, the coolest thing you just saw one of your peers come up with, or anything else that you work hard doing every day. Then, sum it up with one of these statements.

  1. I’m proud to be part of a team that works tirelessly to improve the lives of animals in our care and in their native environments.
  2. I’d love to share about how we learn and gain information about the animals in our care and how I work daily to make their lives even better.
  3. I love to brag about my job.  We are committed to ensuring we learn something new and improve our animal care daily.
  4. My team is outstanding and we provide exceptional care to all of our animals, from gorillas to cockroaches.
  5. Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to share how dedicated and hardworking my team is.

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