Regardless of what I am doing or have ever done, I have always asked myself this question:
"Who is better than me?"
Whether I was managing a McDonald's restaurant, sitting in a sociology class, writing a novel, playing golf, performing onstage, or teaching multiplication to fifth graders, I'm always looking around and asking, "Who is better than me?"
I do this for one of two reasons:
- Identify the person or persons who can teach me to be better.
- Identify the person or persons who I need to beat, crush, stomp on, step over, or defeat.
There is always someone better than you. The bar is always higher than you think. When you stop looking for and striving for that higher bar, you are doomed to remain far below it.
Failure to seek out people better than you results in complacency, and complacency is the worst. Complacency produces mediocrity and a false sense of security. It results in an inability to see the scarcity of resources and increasing levels of competition in this world.
The end product are individuals who fail to realize their full potential and are caught off guard when the economic climate shifts and the world moves on without them.
We see this all the time. I see this all the time. People who feel secure in their jobs suddenly out-hustled. Outsourced. Made irrelevant by technology. People who fail to provide value to their employers, their customers, their students, and their constituency by assuming that they are doing a fine job. Good enough.
"Who is better than me?" is a question that guarantees continuous growth. Self-determination. Flexibility. Adaptability. A competitive edge.
I ask this question constantly, and I never need to look very far to find someone who fits the bill. There is always someone better than me. Someone who I am learning from or chasing after or attempting to destroy.