Be “The Best,” or Best at What You Do?
There comes a time when you’re cultivating a new skill, an art, a business, a talent, or just about anything where you’re standing at a distinct crossroads. One metaphoric road sign reads “Be the Very Best.” The cross street is marked with a sign that bears a resemblance to the first one, but represents something entirely different. That sign says “Be the Best at What You Do.” As you stand there, many conflicted feelings may flow through you. You start to wonder what “The Best” means to you.
From a young age, we’re often generically taught to be the very best. Whether you’re learning to play the flute, dancing, playing a sport, going through grad school, or applying for a job (the list goes on), a repetitive message may knock at your brain cells. It says, “Not good enough—strive to be the best!” What was once enthusiasm for going for what you want can turn into confusion and discouragement. “What is the best,” you wonder, “and how can I possibly achieve a status that, by definition, seems reserved for one person?”
In reality, the idea of the best always begs an answer of who out there is better than you and who is worse than you. Rather than a focus on your own unique skill and talent set, “the very best” implies that your inherent value is absent without this comparison. It stresses recognition rather than self-satisfaction, perfection over practice, an ideal rather than realistic expectations. It asks you to be things that you are not.
The sign that reads “Be the Best at What You Do” is far more meaningful to who you are. What do you do? Naturally, you gravitate toward certain talents and ways of using these talents that are unique to you. When you work toward being the best at what you do, you can actually focus on what you’re really capable of. It doesn’t matter what the person sitting next to you or across from you is doing. They can’t possibly be the best at what you do, because they’re not you. And vice versa. While the message of being the best points everywhere else, the act of being the best at what you do points exclusively to you.
Being the best at what you do is a challenging journey, and it takes courage. It’s not always easy to shut out words from the outside that are directly or indirectly telling you how you should see your work and your worth. It is, however, a very rewarding experience to taste and keep nurturing your own unique potential. You will probably stumble across aspects of your talents that you didn’t realize existed. You can surprise yourself and be proud of what you accomplish, even if: 1) no one is looking and nodding in agreement, or 2) people are shaking their heads in disapproval.
When in your life have you felt the sweep of energy from knowing that you did something your way, and that it was good enough the way you chose to do it? When did you last taste the sensation of doing or creating something that surprised you and opened your eyes to new doors? If the words “The Best” have been knocking too painfully on your brain lately, open your brain cells and say, “No thank you.” Instead, invite over thoughts that encourage the unique nature and journey of being the best at what you do.
If you’re standing at these crossroads right now somewhere in your life, look both ways and go in the direction no one has yet traveled. The road that is reserved for you.