Being the Best at What You Do: Is it Realistic or Even Necessary?
C ompetition and competitiveness is instilled in us all to a greater or lesser extent; the reality of which is it’s the few who achieve the extraordinary, the rest of us are just ordinary. But is that a bad thing?

Does striving to be the best install unrealistic ambition or hope in us? Does it make sense to shoot for the stars? Doesn't it make sense to aim for the stars and be happy with getting to the roof of our homes or workplace?

Outside of a war when is it really a matter of life and death to come out on top? Don't we learn more from our defeats and failures than we do from victory? Is victory at any cost a waste of resources? Doesn't it make more sense to collaborate to our mutual benefit and success a more efficient use of resource and intellect?

In education, in sport, in business, in life, there are the good, there are the bad, there are the helpless, there are the best. It’s a fact of life that not everyone will occupy the high ground or be the elite. The elite are an example of best practice in whatever they do; but even the elite acknowledge that their time at the top is limited to a certain amount of time. What can we surmise from that?

To strive to be the best at all times without some form of collaboration, training, development, guidance, mentoring, encouragement, and will power is impossible, so why try to be the best? The point is to be good at what you do and how you do it. Learn from your peers and look at best practice as a case study and work towards it. Be willing to explore alternatives, be willing to look for compadres who can pick up the mantle and run with it, be willing to be substituted and share the limelight. Being in the limelight at all times is not a pleasant proposition, just ask some celebrities.

Work with many, to learn from them and share experiences. We are social creatures of habit by nature and nurture, we constantly learn and we should never lose the willingness to learn, if we think we know it all, it will be our undoing. If we work with a mindset of inclusiveness and individual personal development of ourselves and colleagues we stand to be better at what we do because there are more of us doing it together.

Teamwork is the key to sustainable success. Why do cyclists excel when working together to push each other to go faster for longer over greater distances, backed up with a support team of medics, physiotherapists, mechanics, coaches and ancillary staff combining efforts with their specialisms to a united end? Because it takes a mammoth effort for individuals of the likes of Froome, Hoy, King, Pendleton,Trott, Roswell and Wiggins to romp home with the amount of gold medals as they have done at the London Olympics and hopefully onward to Rio 2016.

But for the aim of victory being the be all and end all in the competitive sporting environment, the small business owner is not out to dominate the market or run the world, the aim of the vast majority of small businesses are about providing an income for the owners and their staff to live comfortably, pay their taxes, feed their family and have a good quality of life. That doesn't require you to be the best this just requires you to be good at what you do and where you do it.

For a small business to be good at what you do and where you do it depends on a multiple of factors:

  • You are trusted
  • You are reliable
  • You deliver value for money
  • You deliver great customer service
  • You know what they like and what they don't like
  • You are known by your first name, not by your name badge
  • If you are more expensive your customer is happy to pay

We relate to people on an emotional level as well as a professional or transactional level. We like to be valued and we value the valuer.

Being a successful small business does not take years of study at university, it does not take mountains of policies, procedures, or alchemy. The real alchemy is in you and how you deliver whatever it is that you do.

Its not rocket science, know what you do, own what you do, be responsible for what you do, be proud to do what you do and your customers will see it and come back to buy again. The best recommendations are and always will be based on the personal interactions between the customer and vendor.

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