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Good, Best, Better September 19, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in The Daily Grind.
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The fact of the matter is that the world is full of sheep. It’s a mediocre world we live in, one where it doesn’t take much to stand out or take the lead precisely because it’s far too easy to do “just enough” to get by and let things simply gravitate towards the mean.

Those who’ve caught on and strive to be different generally fall into two categories. First, there are those who stand out for the simple reason that they aspire to be Good. In whatever they do, these people make an impression because of their consistency and competence. They may never be at the head of the pack, but they do have share of mind because they are dependable. Besides, they’re Good.

On the other extreme are the leaders of the pack. These are the people far ahead of the curve, the alpha males and females in your school, community or workplace. Sure, maybe it’s their innate talent that sets them apart. But what they all have in common is their drive to simply be the Best.

So people can be exceptional by being Good or aspiring to be the Best. But there is another alternative: being Better.

The Japanese philosophy of kaizen — continuous improvement — captures this perfectly. Simply put, it’s the mindset of improving one’s previous best. In business, for instance, where kaizen is commonly invoked, it might imply working to be at least 50 percent more efficient operationally each and every year. Clearly, it’s a concept relevant beyond the realm of business and one that can be a powerful mantra in our personal lives.

Better isn’t mutually exclusive with either Good or Best, but it is a mindset all its own. Without working to be Better, one can’t expect to be the Best for long. Nor even Good.

More people should aspire to be exceptional, to stand out, to be more than just sheep. Indeed, it’s not all that hard to do so.

Good? Best?

Try Better.

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