January 26th, 2010 by Kevin Ngo
There used to be a time when being good at something meant you were on top or at least near the top. If your product is good, you could easily get tons of customers. If you were good at a certain skill, you could easily get a job. Today, however, with technological advances being made at increasing speeds, competition rising, and information readily available to anyone with internet access, the days of trying to stay ahead by just being good is gone. Being good isn’t enough.
I remember an electronic store that I went to every now and then called The Good Guys. They ended up being acquired by CompUSA, who ended up having to close down many of their stores because of the economic downturn. Besides the bad economy, which of their competition caused this? You guessed it, Best Buy!
The reason I brought this up is because it illustrates my point pretty well and the names of the stores fall perfectly into my example. The Good Guys were along for sometime and did quite well. They were good at what they did. They delivered what they advertised and made good profits. Unfortunately, competition began to increase over time as more and more companies were able to sell similar products online without even having to own a physical store.
The Good Guys were good, but it wasn’t enough to keep them near the top of the game. Now on the other hand, there was a store called Best Buy. They were around a decade earlier and even through the bad economic times, they were still able to stay on top. They weren’t just good, they were the best. Currently, they are #1 in the electronics retail store industry.
So how was Best Buy able to stay above all their competition? How were they able to deliver quality products and at the same time, charge less than most of their competitors? They did it by staying several steps in front of the competition. Instead of becoming complacent like many companies do when they are at the top, Best Buy continued their efforts of staying true to their name.
If you want to get ahead of the competition in your chosen field, you must be able to become the best at what you do. In some industries, even being great doesn’t cut it! Making a habit of learning something new related to your industry and continually updating and polishing basic skills like writing, speaking, and leadership is essential. There’s nothing wrong with being good of course, but if you want to secure your income, you must do everything you can to be one of the best.
Most people who watched the Olympics last year, specifically the Track and Field events, remember that Usain Bolt took first place while also breaking the world’s record in both the 100m and 200m dash. What’s interesting is that not many people will remember who took second place and a much smaller amount will remember who took third place. The guy who got second place is supposedly the second fastest man in the world. Yet, look at the differences between first and second. The recognition and endorsements are worlds apart between the two. We all remember Michael Phelps winning the most Gold medals in a single Olympics ever but how many people remember the person with the second most Gold medals last year? Do you even know the name of the second man who stepped foot on the moon after Neil Armstrong? Who remembers who was second best?
Think for a moment about what you can do to become great in different areas of your life. If you currently see yourself as a good employee, what can you do to become a great one? If you see yourself as a good dad or mom, what needs to happen in order for you to become a great one?
Now before you go out and try to become great at everything you do, keep in mind that the people who are at the top of their game are people who have put everything into a single passion. If there is no competition, then you’re just competing with yourself but if there is competition, your focus must be on one thing.
Michael Jordan’s focus was basketball. Tiger Wood’s focus is golf. Roger Federer’s focus is tennis. Misty May and Kerri Walsh’s focus was beach volleyball. Warren Buffet’s focus was investing. What all of these people have in common isn’t merely that they spent a lot of time practicing and honing their skills. Many people do that. What separates them from the rest is that they all have a healthy obsession with being the best at what they do.
Not all of life is about competition of course. You can be the best parent in the world to your children without having to compete against anyone else. You can just be the best you that you can be.
The point is this. If you are just putting in “good enough” efforts, you will only get “good enough” results. If you want your life to change, for it to be great, you will need to start putting in extraordinary efforts on a daily basis. Don’t worry about outside circumstances that you can’t control. Focus on what you can control. Focus on what kind of actions you can be taking each day that will lead you to that life you have always wanted. Don’t be half-assed about this either.
If you are going to play, then play hard or don’t play at all. Second best is good but being the best you that you can be is better.
Until next time…
Love Life. Do Good. Live Well.
Go from Second Best to Improving Yourself page.