We lose all kinds of energy and vitality when we aim to be the best at something rather than trying to be good at it.
Aiming at best will guide our hearts toward competition, comparison, and viewing others as threats. It has to. That’s what best means. There can only be one. Best means scarcity. Only one person wins with best.
Good, on the other hand, tends toward cooperation, learning, and viewing others as collaborators. It really has to. The quickest path to getting good at something is to learn from people who are better than you. But there can be infinity people who are good at something. Good means plenty. Everybody can win with good. In your school, right now, every teacher can become good at teaching, but only one can become best.
In most domains of life, there’s a way to try being best and there’s a way to try being good. In almost all cases, the superior path is the one that aims at being good.
In teaching, it’s always wiser to aim at being good. Aiming at best is a waste of effort. It’s actually a pretty good way to make sure you’ll never be the best. So stop trying. Be credible instead.
In leading professional development, it’s always wiser to aim at being good. Take it from a guy who knows: trying to be the best PD person is soul-sucking, but trying to be a good PD person will give you life and purpose in the work.
The only domains where “best” is the better way are those over which we have total control. This year, I’d like to be the best husband Crystal has ever had. I’d like to be better than Last Year Dave was. I’d like to love her and appreciate her and like her and enjoy her more than that guy, that punk 🙂 . And guess what? Those things I just listed depend completely on me — not my circumstances, not Crystal, just me. These are the only circumstances I’ve found where competition and comparison make me more of a human, not less.
So if you want to compete with someone, compete with you! Competing with Past You is good, clean fun. Picking on her is, too. After all, she tried her best!
And this year, we will, too.