While thinking about what it means to be the best, I did a simple Google search and found a shift in our thinking.
In 2014 Time Magazine wrote about "The Five Paths to Being the Best at Anything."
However, a mere five years later, Forbes wrote a piece titled "Why Doing Your Best is Better Than Being the Best."
Then, I had to stop (and take a deep breath) when I found on Outside the article, "It's Okay to be Good and Not Great."
It seemed, in my unscientific poll, the number of articles on being the best was outweighed almost two-to-one with it is okay to be good enough.
"Good enough is the new perfect."
So, what is being the best, and why strive to be that?
For the sake of our conversation together, let's focus on the services aspect of being the best and define you versus what your client wants you to be.
If I was a golfer, which I am not, and I was going to take a lesson, I'd expect my pro to be someone who mastered the game. They would be well versed in the physicality, the psychology, the humble nature, the pace, and the rules on how to keep score.
They would be able to, to the best of their ability, transfer all of that knowledge, mindset, and physicality into me as ability. I would be looking for someone who has played the game, won/lost a few, and speaks from experience. Oh, and they would tell me funny stories.
Notice that the description of that golf pro was complicated. I didn't say stance, hand-grip, ball strike, replacing the duff. I said things like psychology, mindset, physicality, humility, knowledge. In other words, the extra components of the game that will elevate me quickly to a level where I can compete and win. That individual would be the "best" golf pro for me, and I would feel better about writing the check to pay for their time.
Good Enough and Going Out of Business
Your client never wants good enough. If they are happy with a good enough approach, they're doomed to fail. We've seen good enough. Blockbuster. PanAm. Kodak. Toys R Us. Tower Records. They were all brands that were beaten by others striving to be the best.
You Are Your Own Company
You are your own company of one. Your own brand. Just like the companies I mentioned above, you have a decision to make. Good enough or the best? You are responsible for being your best. Like that golf pro, you need to focus on the aspects of servicing the client that set you apart from others in your field. By the way, the service type does not matter.
4 Things To Do Right Now
Know your stuff: Never assume you have made it to expert status. You are never, ever an expert. Do not "take a pass" on continuing your education or training in your field. Take it upon yourself to find training. Don't make your journey the responsibility of anyone else. Otherwise, when you arrive at your destination you are where they put you. Not where you intended to go.
"It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best." - W. Edwards Deming
Communicate clearly: Those who are the best are great communicators. Now, that does not mean you have to be a motivational speaker like Tony Robbins. It does mean you must be able to communicate clearly and concisely. You must have the ability to speak to "one" and the "many." Join a Toastmasters group, or speak at local events in your industry. Don't get hung up on not being great at speaking to start. With practice, you will get the hang of it.
"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." - Robert Frost
Drop the ego: Whom do you know in your industry who is convinced they are at the top of the game? And they are willing to tell you they are the best (again and again). We know those folk. When they start talking, we turn off and start looking for ways to leave the conversation. There is a list of reasons why they are so full of themselves. At the top of the list is ego. Drop your ego. Approach your client and career with a servant's heart. Demonstrate what you know by doing, and others will recognize your skills without having to be told.
"Ego Trip: A journey to nowhere." - Dr. Robert Half
Learn from the best: Study those who have succeeded in your industry, business, or life. What are their habits? Do they get up early? How do they plan their time? Are they action takers? Seek out those individuals and read about them. Talk to them (you'd be surprised how many will pick up the phone). Join masterminds or groups where they lead or participate. To be the best, you have to hang out with the best.