July 13, 2004

The Death Of The Best

In days of not so old, when most people didn't stray far from where they were born, everybody could be the best. At something. You are the best baker; I am the best mechanic; she is a farmer, as is he - he is the best farmer, but she is the best singer; your brother is the fastest runner; my cousin is the best climber.

Everyone could find their niche, and make it theirs.

Then we all moved to the global village. Now there are far more people than there are things to be best at. Now there's always someone better than you. At everything.

Posted by Adrian at July 13, 2004 12:24 AM | TrackBack

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But you can always be the best at being you.

Posted by: The Mortal Wombat at July 13, 2004 09:11 AM

But that's just a complete kop-out. Society has a built-in drive towards achievement, and there's no achievement in "being you" - it'd be a pretty amazing achievement if you weren't the best at being you!

How do we help people to decouple the "achievement is good" from the "winner takes all" of the ensuing competition?

Posted by: Adrian at July 13, 2004 11:30 AM

Thing is, though, that your you-ness includes a complex of all the things that you're good at. What you need to think about is how many other people there are in the world who are better at the whole combination of your valuable/interesting/useful skills.

If there were a triathlon of cycling, database design, and Mediæval Welsh translation, for example, I reckon I'd have a pretty good chance of beating anyone else in the whole world. I'm sure you could come up with some similar combinations where you would be best.

Perhaps the problem is twofold: not only do we feel that we're competing with the whole world population nowadays, but we've also been taught to value specialisation much more highly.

Posted by: The Mortal Wombat at July 13, 2004 02:21 PM

Ok, I like the triathlon idea, and that isn't what I'd have meant by "being you" because there's still some defined skills and level of achievement required.

The problem then is that if there isn't a well-defined concept to encompass said triathlon, it can become a bit nebulous. Running my own business is going to require a whole host of skills, but is quite easy to understand whether I'm getting better or not. It's harder to pin-point whether I'm the best cake baking coder, and if I'm not, how to approach improving matters.

Posted by: Adrian at July 15, 2004 10:08 AM

I think one is always doomed to disappointment of one focuses on being 'the best'. I prefer to try and focus on being 'good enough'.

Posted by: at July 16, 2004 08:42 AM

Oops .. that previous comment was by me btw!

Posted by: Andrew at July 16, 2004 08:42 AM
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