I came across a fantastic article this morning called Why Better is Better Than Best by Simon Sinek of Re:Focus. With so many small business blogs out there proclaiming they have the golden key to success, it’s easy to become jaded when business related articles come my way. But this one really hit home for me and got me thinking.
First let me share the introductory paragraphs to bring it into context:
The fastest runners in the world run between 12-14mph (19-23kph). The average bear runs between 30-40mph (48-64kph). That means if a bear decides to give chase, even Usain Bolt, the world record sprinter, could not outrun it.
But there is an adage: to get away from a bear you don’t have to be the fastest runner in the world, you just have to be faster than the guy behind you.
The same is true in business.
Except taken from Why Better is Better Than Best by Simon Sinek of Re:Focus.
Pretty simple concept huh?
It’s extremely easy for us to get too caught up in what our competitors are doing. It’s just as easy for us to lay down because our insecurities tell us they are better and that we can never be as good. Essentially we drop our pace to watch them. It’s almost like slowing down to look at a car wreck on the highway. But guess what? Cars in other lanes have somewhere to be and so they just keep going. They keep their eyes firmly on their destination and quickly zoom past you.
I’ll be honest, I don’t consciously keep tabs on my competition. Of course, I see work of stationers all time. More often than not, I admire the beauty of their work rather than looking at it through envious eyes. Undoubtedly on occasion I see something and think “man, I wish I’d thought of that” or “I wish I were able to create work in that style” but I let that feeling out fast and move on. If I hold onto it, I find one of two things happen: (1) I come to a standstill; or (2) I find myself trying to change what is natural to me and something I can run with. If you allow either of these to happen, you’ll soon realize you’re running in the wrong direction which is backwards rather than forwards.
At the end of the day, I am extremely confident in my work and instincts as a designer. In some ways, I think that’s the key to design or at least it is for me. It’s important to work with your gut and instincts vs trying to be something you’re not. Quit jumping on a bandwagon because everyone else is doing it and it sells. When you do, you’re just running at their pace (plus letting THEM determine YOUR pace) and because they’ve been running longer than you, they’ll probably still outrun you anyway. So, next time you find yourself spending way too much time worrying about your competition, remember that you’re slowing yourself down and there’s someone behind you itching to pass you by.
As for the best vs better, this is a whole other post and so for now I’ll just say this. You see it all the time, people proclaiming they want to take over the world, be #1 in the category (or think they already are) or perhaps think they have everything figured out and only success will come their way… the list goes on. While there’s nothing wrong in having those goals in your sight (though the take over the world one always makes me roll my eyes), when you do achieve that, assuming you do, then what? Don’t assume you’ll never have to run again, because you will, and while you stand upon legs that don’t fail you, you should be.
Who’s pace are you running at? Yours or theirs?
P.S. I think the photo above sums up the article I referenced perfectly. The wanting to be the best vs better. Even when you reach the end of something (perhaps your ultimate goal) you still have to do something. So, unless you are ready to just stand still or turnaround, you had better get ready for your next destination.
Photo Credit: Julia Lillqvist