Why You Don’t Have To Be The Best

you don't have to be the best

Do you think in order to succeed you need to aim to be the best?

Well guess what…

You don’t have to be the best. You don’t even have to be the best in your field. You just have to be the best in your small corner of the universe.

Similarly you don’t have to be the worlds best expert in your field, you just have to be expert enough for your audience.

You Don’t Have To Be The Best

A lot of people set off on a chosen business path and decide that in order to succeed they have to be the best _______ (fill in the blank).

Not true.

I listened to this interview a few days back where Srinivas Rao interviews Seth Godin. At a certain point in the interview, Srini said something along the lines of ‘…among so much noise and people fighting for attention, why do people like Julian Smith & Chris Guillabeau stand out in the world…’.

Seth countered with ‘…there’s 6.5 billion people in the world and within a rounding error, none of those have heard of Julian, Chris you or I…’?

The point being made here is that Julian Smith and Chris Guillabeau are indeed very famous, but famous in the blogging and online communities they’re a big part of, if you’re outside of that sphere, you’ve probably never heard of them either. But to someone in those circles, these guys are very famous.

There are plenty of very successful people in the world who you’ve probably never heard of. They are famous. They are business famous … but they are famous in their small corner of the universe.

and that’s all they need.

Luckily for all of us, gone are the days where ‘famous’ is what it’s all about – you don’t have to be ‘world’ or even ‘TV’ famous to succeed, you don’t have to be the best in your industry, you just have to be famous enough in your small corner of the universe (whatever that looks like) to succeed.

You Don’t Have To Be The Worlds Best Expert

Similarly you don’t have to be the worlds best expert in your field. You just have to be expert enough for your audience.

It was in speaking with a client today that I got the idea to write that post. The client told me that he wanted to be a cricket coach. We talked about the natural tendency to want to be the best at what you’re doing and he described how he couldn’t be the best cricket coach due to never having been a professional cricketer, his age, his athletic prowess etc etc. Then he decided that rather than aim for the ‘elite’ end of the scale he would focus on teaching children around the age of 6.

The call is confidential but I can play you a little clip with my voice only on it:

(I also got the clients permission to use this clip & his example in any case)

So the point here is that he doesn’t need to be the best, in fact for those 6-year olds he is almost certainly a much better coach than a really high-end coach would be, because he can relate to them better both in terms of his experience working with children (which beyond a basic level of coaching is far more important than the cricket coaching skills in this scenario) and in terms of being ‘closer’ to their level and experience than the top-end pro would be.

So sometimes being a ‘bit of an expert’ can actually be better than being ‘the best expert’ because you can relate better to your clients. Just as long as you are sufficiently more expert than they are. That ‘sufficiently’ will vary wildly from situation to situation.

Final Thought

So in the end, deciding that you need to be the best at something could become a limiting belief if it stops you moving forwards.

Also deciding you don’t need to be the best is too vague (nobody remembers average).

… but you can decide to be the best in your particular niche or corner of the universe and you can decide to be the very best you can be. That’s a much better way to go.


Comments

Why You Don’t Have To Be The Best — 6 Comments

  1. You make a really good point. Being the best is a vague term. At most, it’s a subjective view. There are certainly many people who consider some people the best in their field that I would disagree with. That doesn’t mean either of us are correct or incorrect. Does it even matter if you’re the best anyway? I don’t think so. Someone who comes in second behind another still did a really good job to get there.

    I love the way you put it that people well-known in their field are often unknown to many others. It even happens to really famous pop culture people. How many names have people told me of famous movie or TV stars that I don’t know? I just don’t follow those people.

  2. Fantastic reminder, Alan.

    There are a lot of psychological obstacles people run into when wanting to do work they enjoy, and this is a big one of them.

    When I started, I had the same worry. I looked at people already doing what I wanted to do, and I thought no one would want to read my stuff.

    But when I took action, I discovered something entirely different.

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