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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Striving to be the best

One of our blog readers asked an interesting question the other day:

“How to be the best” in what you do ?

I guess a cliched answer would be “there is no silver bullet as an answer”. But really, this question interested me, because in work life, so many people approach us saying “they are so busy to do anything else” and that their work life is killing their personal life.

These are what I consider to be the basic tenets of “striving to be the best”. Just like the United Airlines ad. puts it “Where you go in life is upto you. There is one airline that can take you there”, these thoughts can help take you to your goals:

  • Listen – The more you listen, the more you’d learn how little you know. In my field of technology, there are so many smart people doing great things that you are always learning (and I bet that is true for any field). Talk to people, ask for their opinions, let them feel good that they are being asked for advice. They may say twenty things out of which you may not have known one
  • Talk – Any person who has taught before knows this well. If you really want to make sure you understand something, try explaining it to someone else. Put yourself on the block, describe the concept, the thought and open yourself for cross examination.
  • Share – The best way to continuously improve is to share your knowledge, and ask others to share in return. Whatever be the forum – blogs, meetings, informal get-togethers and similar. Sometimes, it amazes me how little people want to share vs. how much they want to talk about what they know.
  • Read – You have to keep reading – read journals, articles, magazines and whatever else you can find related to your line of work. And read a little beyond your line of work too (I can this a lateral activity – you will be amazed how often you can link two domains into a brand new concept)
  • Eat Humble Pie – I have repeated this several times before in previous articles. If there is one thing that is the worst enemy in your quest for being the best, it is your ego. If someone tells you that you are wrong, listen to it with an open mind and analyze the response before you decide to respond.
  • Dive in and look up – As you dive into details and get to understand the guts of what you really need to know, don’t forget to breathe and look up at the bigger picture. Here is something I always do – every once in a while, I draw and end-end network diagram of how what I am reading about could be used end-end. You must keep the overall objective in mind as you dive in and keep asking yourself “How does this work” and “How is is applied ?” and “at the end of the day, who does this benefit?”
  • Passion – The most important tenet. You’ve got to love what you do. If you think what you are doing is a chore, you are already second-best.
Let me open the floor to the readers - what do you think are the basic steps in being the best ?


  1. Also, challenge. When you hear something that does not make sense, and you are sure that is should make sense, challenge it. When you are wrong, it will give you insight into the area which you could not pick up through reading alone. And when you are right....

  2. Positive Attitude

    It's key to be the best.

    One 'Q'... Mr Corporate where are you getting these nice title pictures in your all articles?.


  3. Harish, these are all microsoft clipart images