Don’t be better, be different

Don’t be better, be different

Good, better, best, never let it rest,-page-001


Good, better and best are all comparative – comparative to SOMEBODY ELSE.  You are good at singing (compared to who?)  You are better at running than your sister.  You are the best ukelele player in the country (in other words in comparison to every other ukelele player in the country).

Why do you want to be the same as everyone else?  Better granted, but better at the same thing.  If you are doing the same as everybody else then what makes you special, what gives you the edge other than the fact that you can run a bit faster?

The best swordsman in the world doesn’t need to fear the second-best swordsman in the world. No, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before. He doesn’t do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn’t prepared for him. He does the thing he ought not to do, and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.”

Mark Twain was a wise man.  Even if you are the best in the world if you are always doing the same as everyone else then the only way you can keep winning is by holding on to your top spot, even if only by your finger nails.

Not only is that hard work, it’s also extremely boring.  But come along with a broadside, something completely unexpected and you knock your competition off their feet.  By the time they have worked out what you have done and tried to replicate it, you are off doing something completely different again.

My father was a partner in a law firm called Harbottle & Lewis.  In those days they were a small but very successful entertainment law firm.  Amongst their clients was a certain Richard Branson.  Irritated by his inability to get to the British Virgin Islands where his soon to be wife was waiting, he chartered a plane to take him and all the other passengers stranded in Puerto Rico to the BVI. On his return he bought a Boeing 747 and so Virgin Atlantic was born.  At the same time Harbottle & Lewis very quickly had to become specialists in aviation law.  Both are now experts in their field, all because of a cancelled flight from Puerto Rico to BVI.

Granted, most of us are not in a position to buy a plane, but any one of us could have rounded up all the stranded passengers, pooled our funds and chartered a plane.

The point is that we don’t.  We keep doing the same old in order to be better than everyone else but fail to see that it is in being unexpected, by being outrageous, by being downright weird that we are more likely to rise to the top and to have fun whilst we do it.

The problem with Best Practice is that it is all the same.  Miracles, fantastic start up companies and outstanding inventions are born of ideas that turn the norm on its head and spin it round with a blindfold.

Personally I love my Henry and wouldn’t swap him for a double chocolate chip cheesecake and a jeroboam of champagne, but you can’t deny that the first Dyson shook up the vacuum cleaner market.  The first Dyson was expensive, it could only be repaired by sending it back to the manufacturer, yet people queued up to buy them.  Today James Dyson makes a feature of making the ordinary extraordinary.

If he can do it with a vacuum cleaner then surely you can do it with your life?