Facebook Original: Mediocrity is such an unfulfilling form of existence.
Why settle for just okay when you can be so dang good that the world is left gawking at your skills?
Exactly — don’t. Though being the best will take time, determination, and practice, it’s an unparalleled feeling.
The fact of the matter is that you will always be you. Always.
When you’re someone you’re not, eventually that person fades away and you return to you.
This is the person you’ll be working with, so get to know yourself!
You’ll be more comfortable in your own skin — you’ll be a better person, a better friend, a better boyfriend/girlfriend, a better employee, a better everything.
You’ll be less stressed and you’ll be more confident.
You’ll know what you’re working with and how to work it. Sold yet?
- Know that you are not your brand or what people think of you.
- This has nothing to do with anything. You will not be happy if you create an image that caters to the world around you and not to you. If you became the best lyrical soprano this side of Vienna, would that really matter if you truly wanted to the next John Lennon? No. So cater to no one. Find yourself and work with it.
There is no one else out there who is you. Therefore, you are the best you there is.
But if you are trying to be someone or something else, that logic goes out the window.
You become a second-rate copy of whatever it is you’re trying to emulate.
No matter who you are (or who you think you are), commit to it. This is the hand you’ve been dealt.
Can’t win if you don’t play it.
- To be the best, you can’t reinvent the wheel. You can’t copy others. You have to do new, innovative things. You have to study biology when you want to become a computer scientist. You have to be yourself to avoid being someone else. Crystal clear?
3. Start thinking positively.
For the rest of your life, you will be your greatest obstacle.
You will be the reason you don’t walk up to that sexy guy/girl, you will be the reason you don’t ask for that raise.
You will be the reason you do or do not succeed.
Thinking positively opens the door to so many opportunities.
When you think you’re capable of something, you try.
When you view lifelike shooting fish in a barrel, you aim the gun and shoot.
When you get negative, you put down the gun.
Walk away from the barrel and go to bed with the covers over your head.
No one ever became the best doing that.
- If positive thinking doesn’t come naturally to you, make it a point to do it. Wake up in the morning, take a look in the mirror and say out loud, “I’m awesome. Today is going to be great and I’ll get closer and closer to my goals.” And when the negative thoughts start creeping up, squash ’em. You pick your thoughts, you know.
4. Get excited.
You’re about to be the best at whatever it is you choose to be the best at. If you cannot get excited about that, what can you become excited about? Exactly. So get excited! Start thinking in exclamation points! When you’re excited, things happen. You get filled with inspiration, creativity, and drive. You practically burst at the seams with possibilities.
- So much about succeeding in the real world is about actually wanting it. Remember all the times you turned in a crappy project to your English teacher and got an A because the rest of the class’ works were even worse? You got complacent and stopped caring. You lost your excitement. Heads up: Life ain’t like that. You gotta stay excited to turn in those papers that are actually worth the A. The real world is full of valedictorians and go-getters that are turning in A papers, too. It’ll be a lot easier to keep up if you’re chomping at the bit.
5. Be open and flexible.
There is no one path to greatness. You cannot say, “I’m going to go to school, get a job, fall madly in love, buy a house, knock out a few kids, and live happily ever after.” For most of us, that’s not exactly how it’s going to work. If you want to be the best at something, you have to realize there’s an entire web of possibilities in front of you. If you close your mind, you may not see the most direct way to your goals.
- So the next time you’re sitting with your team and you’re devising a project on say, how to get Lindsay Lohan to star in your next documentary for film school, don’t laugh off Yoon’s comment on tunneling into her swimming pool via her old babysitter’s uncle’s backyard. Remember when people thought Galileo was crazy, too?
6. Get competitive.
If you don’t have a drive to be the best, it’ll never happen. And part of being the best means having a thirst for competition. How else will you know if you’re the best unless you compare yourself to your peers? Compare yourself to your peers and win, that is.
- If you’re not comfortable with competitions, contests, and races, sour news for you: that’s gonna have to change. And the only way to do that is to immerse yourself full in. Once you get a handful of who’s-the-best contests under your belt, they’ll phase you less and less. And after a dozen, it’ll feel like breathing.
- Don’t go overboard. If you’re the friend that turns everything into a competition, you’ll soon find yourself friendless. Keep the contests to the skills that you’re actually trying to master — not life in general.
7. Choose something you’re in love with.
In case you weren’t aware, you can’t be better than everyone at everything.
Even you are the best human being on the face of the Earth, you can’t, by definition, be the best at, such as, winning and losing.
So instead of spreading yourself thin, choose something that speaks to you.
What’s the first thing you want to be ridiculously awesome at?
Odds are it popped into your head in about .3 seconds.
- Remember to be realistic. Don’t aim to climb Mt.
- Everest if you don’t have legs. While your mom was sort of right when she said, “You can be anything you put your mind to,” she was sugar-coating it a bit for you. If you’re capable of it, it can happen. Just remember that.
8. Find a mentor.
Even the best need guidance. No baby learns how to walk, talk, and play without being shown.
People are around you to help you grow. So whatever it is you want to be the best at, find someone who does it.
They don’t have to be the best, but they should be better than you. At least for right now.
Having someone show you the ropes is so much easier — and faster — than learning it for yourself.
- When Bobby Fischer was 3, he didn’t pick up an advanced chess book and start taking notes.
- He was handed a chess set and shown how to play. He worked with competitors to improve his game.
- He worked with friends to devise strategy. He studied under chess greats.
- Two heads are better than one, remember?
9. Get uncomfortable.
You know what’s scary? Trying things. You know what’s scarier? Trying new things where you might fail.
And this will be the rest of your life. To rise to the top, all that scary stuff will be involved.
It will make you uncomfortable. But when it’s uncomfortable, you know you’re putting yourself out there, taking risks, accepting challenges, and improving. If it’s easy, you’re not going anywhere.
- Henry Ford had two failed companies before he succeeded.
- Steve Jobs had a lot of things under his belt before he truly hit success.
- There will be trials and tribulations; there will be failures; there will be times when you’re unsure.
- You gotta go through with it anyway.
Wanting to be the best is all well and good, but it’s not enough. You have to decide.
Decide that it’s what you’re doing. There are no two ways around it.
If you have a plan B, you might use it. What could plan B possibly consist of?
Being slightly above average? No thank you.
- This “being the best” thing just is. It’s not an idea, it’s a not a goal, it just is. You just are. You are doing it.
- Done and done. Accept it. You’ve decided. Now it’s only a matter of time.
11. Come up with ideas.
You know that thing that you love? Well, how are you going to do it?
Since you’re well aware there are a dozen ways to go about it, which one’s for you? Start brainstorming.
Come up with six things that will propel you on your path to being incredible. Six things that get you on track.
- Once you have your six, pick one. Do it today. Let’s say you want to be a famous actress. Your six things are taking an acting class, contacting an old friend of yours who did it, contacting your local theatre/acting agency, making a budget to save money for moving, planning a new workout routine, and scouring Craigslist and other postings in your area. How easy is it to do one of those things? Once you’ve done one, replace it. Always have six things on your list.
12. Balance yourself out.
If you’re spending 14 hours in your basement genetically engineering a man-eating plant, eating only Ramen noodles and drinking Kool-Aid, not showering and pulling out your hair, you’re not the best you can be.
Make sure other aspects of your life get attention too. Ideally, you want to be the best at everything, right?
So that means looking the part, acting the part, being the part, and feeling the part. In other words, take care of yourself!
- It’s hard to be the best when we don’t feel the best.
- So shower, do your hair, throw on some clothes that say, “Here I am, world!” and get started being fantastic. Exercise, eat right, and get some sleep.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” he talks about the 10,000 hour principle.
That you don’t get really, truly prodigal in something until you’ve practiced for 10,000 hours.
He talks about how the Beatles were mediocre until they hit the 10,000 hour mark playing small German pubs.
He talks about how Bill Gates spent nights in the computer lab for years on end before anyone else even thought to. To really be great at something, you gotta put in the time.
- This is also a long-winded way of saying “be patient.” You’re not going to be the next Paul McCartney or Bill Gates overnight. Even they weren’t! You’re going to spend 1,000 hours being pretty terrible, the next 3,000 hours being okay, the next 4,000 hours being pretty good, and the last 1,999 being super until you finally get so amazing you can barely fathom your own superiority. Then you know — so no need to time yourself.
14. Learn by doing.
You’ve probably studied a foreign language.
You’ve probably read textbooks, done exercises, watched videos, etc. and so forth ad infinitum.
That gets you started, it gets the ball rolling, but the ball loses momentum with time.
If you wanted to be fluent in that language, you’d move to the country.
You’d actually do it. It’s the same with any large idea. You can’t watch a video.
You can’t just observe. You can’t study it for years on end until you have a piece of paper.
You have to go out there and do it.
- The next time someone offers you an opportunity and you’re not sure whether to take it, don’t listen to yourself and just do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re ill-prepared or unsure or doubtful of your abilities. Do it anyway. Turn that voice off; it’s doing you more harm than good.
- Get your hands on whatever you can. Do you want to be an astronaut? Don’t just read a book. Go to your nearest planetarium and stay until they ask you to leave and then do that every day until they know you by name and offer to show you around the back. Suck up to your professor until he breaks out the special telescope just for you. Just take action. Go.
15. Make sacrifices.
Alright, here’s a fact of life for you: There is not enough time in the day to have your cake and eat it, too.
If you wanna ace all your Organic Chem tests, you can’t spend every night in the bar with your friends.
You will have to prioritize. You’ll have to skip out on things you want to do to make time for the things you need to do.
You’ll need to spend hours upon hours building up your skills, which you can’t do if you’re doing anything else.
- There may come a time when instead of doing a sport, you pick up a part-time job. There will be weekends you need to spend in the library. There will be times when you can’t go out with the hot guy or girl even when it’s the only night they’re in town. These things have to happen in order for you to be as good as you can possibly be. You have to think of it as you ultimately doing yourself a favor. Your future self, sure, but still yourself.
Make horrible, terrible, ugly mistakes. Get people hating you.
Do things so differently that people think you’re crazy.
Fail so miserably that you come out the other side knowing exactly what not to do.
Take pride in it. You’re doing something.
- The only way to avoid criticism and failure is to do nothing.
- Making a target of yourself means you’re doing something. You’re living.
- Thus, failing is good. It is natural and it is right.
- If nothing else, it’s strategizing and narrowing things down.
- When you have 10 possibilities and you know 9 of them don’t work, guess what?
17. Practice self-analysis.
At the end of the day, it’s imperative you sit down and think about the day’s events.
What worked out? What didn’t? What could you have done better?
What are you glad you did and not so glad you didn’t?
If you don’t step back to think about these things, to think about where you are, you’ll never know where to go and how to get there.
- While it’s important to analyze your successes (how can you recreate them?), it’s doubly important to analyze your failures. This can get frustrating and demotivating to an extreme, but it must be done. Don’t let it set you back! Remember: even a failure is progress. Being the best is about fine-tuning your skills.
18. Use other people to your advantage.
You don’t live in a vacuum. You have dozens of people around you that want to help.
That can help. Everyone you know knows something you don’t.
Because of that, they can all help you — even if it’s in the tiniest of ways.
Use their knowledge to put you on the fast track to being the best. Strength in numbers, after all.
- No one has ever gotten to where they are without help from other people. Not only will you avoid doing things that have already been done, but they can tell you ways they’ve tried that haven’t worked, too. When you put your heads together, you automatically cut the work into parts. Being the best isn’t about being the best all alone — it’s about being the best with what (and who) you have to work with.
19. Stay on track and keep moving forward.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there,” is a quote attributed to Will Rogers.
And a very, very insightful and truthful quote at that.
In order to be the best, there’s gotta be constant progress.
Constant practice. Constant self-analyzation. Constant teamwork. Constant determination.
- If you’re doing what you love, you’ll be happy. You’ll know you’re on the right track.
- If you keep on learning and challenging yourself, you’ll know you’re making progress.
- With time and effort, you’ll keep getting better and better.
- Setbacks happen, failures can wreak havoc, but at the end of the day you’ll still be pretty damn good.
- Once you hit 10,000 hours it doesn’t mean you can stop! Did Steve Jobs stop when he made the iPod nano? NO. HE DIDN’T. If anything, your best work will come after the 10,000 hour mark. Don’t you wanna see what you’re capable of?
20. Be modest.
When you become the cream of the crop, it’s all too easy to look down on the Plebeians below you.
You can become out of touch and, quite frankly, an ass.
Don’t do it! Think of all the people it took to get you where you are.
How would you want to be treated?
- When it comes to most things, there will always be someone who is better than you.
- By the time you become better than them, there will be someone else in the picture.
- And if you are better than them at something, there’s something else where they take the cake.
- Remember this. It’s how you treat those below you that determines your character, not your equals.