Striving to be the best is a waste of time and can actually be dangerous

Whatever she's taking I'll have a double!

“You’re simply the best, better than all the rest, better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met” warbled Tina Turner a long time ago. But, had she been singing about businesses she would have been leading us all up the wrong path.

Think about it. This obsession we have to be the best at whatever we do is just not possible because it implies that the rules are the same and so are the ways we measure “best” like runners competing in the 100m sprint. Whilst the rules and the measurement are the same for all competitors (start at the same time and first through the tape is the best) in business this is just not the case.

Let’s explore this a little further. I asked my son who his favourite actor was and his response was no real surprise “do you mean comedy or action dad?” in other words “best” depended upon context. Added to that when I asked my daughter the same question she provided a different list of names to my son. Personal preference can also affect “best” just as much as context.

So supposing you wanted to be the best window cleaner in the land. To some people this would mean the cheapest, others it would be the most thorough whilst another set might be looking for those added extras like washing down the paintwork at the same time you clean the glass. Each group of customers would measure your performance according to what was important to them.

Now here’s the dangerous part: trying to be the best at whatever you do is almost certainly likely to be based upon what you think rather than what your clients think. This means there is a very strong possibility that your version of “best” may not be their version. Result: unhappy clients and a disappointed you. In business the only thing that matters is what your clients think.

So what can you do? Well the really successful organisations do three things: –

  1. They have a very clear idea of who their target market are. Whilst they recognise they can’t satisfy everyone they don’t care as long as this group has their needs met or, better still, surpassed.
  2. They focus all their energy on finding out what the needs and preferences of these people are and they shape their offering and the way they deliver it to entirely meet those needs.
  3. They are constantly reassessing what their market needs and how well they are satisfying them – complacency is a stealthy killer.

Well there you have it dear reader. Trying to be the best for too wider group of people will almost certainly result in you providing an average service to all of them. Why not focus upon a smaller and more defined target group; take some time to understand what they want and how they want it delivered to them (the best according to them) and then continually strive to deliver. Greatness beckons I think.

As it turns out Tina Turner has done that for her audience for many years with enduring success and long may she continue to do so.


Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Posted in Achievement, Customer Service, Differentiation, excellence
2 comments on “Striving to be the best is a waste of time and can actually be dangerous
  1. Camie says:

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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