Being humans, not machines we’re subject to an incredibly large number of variables that determine how well we perform. Many elite level performers strive for consistency in the face of tough conditions or competition, aiming to make their own performance a consistent factor in an inconsistent world.

However, even the world’s best recognise that that they cannot be at their absolute best every time, all the time. Rafa Nadal won his sixth straight Monte Carlo Masters Tennis tournament last weekend, itself a tremendously consistent achievement, beating Novak Djokovic in the final. Afterwards Nadal was asked to comment on the consideration that Djokovic had been below par, and he said:

“Yes. Djokovic wasn’t the real best Djokovic. In other finals that I played against him, I wasn’t my real best, too. But the real best are both. My real best is when I play well and when I play bad.”

And that’s how to deliver consistently great performances, to know that you’ve given your best even when you’ve not played your best.