Our culture is obsessed with being the best. It doesn’t matter what you’re the best at. Just become the best at something, we are told.
The quest to become the best invokes a sort of false romanticism, much like The Question. Being the best is seen as this exciting, grandiose idea, but in reality it often leaves us feeling inadequate and broken.
An impossible task
The problem is that you can’t be the best. Nobody can.
Even if you were to dedicate your life to one pursuit, and deny all other parts of yourself, you would never get there. In almost every area, there will always be someone better (and someone worse) than you. Even if you happen to win that gold medal at the Olympics, someone will inevitably come after you and take that medal away. And anyway, it’s damn lonely at the top.
The pressure to be the best sets us up for failure. It also pits us against each other and creates an atmosphere where we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, making us negative, insecure and judgmental.
Being the best is unnecessary, really
As we’ve discussed here, here, and here, expertise is highly over-rated. What matters more than being the best, is being effective. Life should be about making a difference and bringing value to the world, not being at the top of your field. (I actually believe that the greatest specialists don’t focus on being the best either. They focus on making a difference, and do it through specialization because that’s how they’re wired.)
But what about becoming your best?
Ah yes, most specialists wishing to impose their mono-destined life on all of us, will no doubt throw out this argument. Okay, so if you can’t be the best in a particular field, what about becoming your best? MASTERY! EXPERTISE! (Cue the heavenly chorus.)
Passion is what fuels learning, creativity and income. Once the passion is gone, the work will become tedious. Shouldn’t we be enjoying our lives? More than that, don’t our hearts know what’s right for us? Remember, you are not broken by default.
Unique multipotentialite strengths
Maybe there’s a reason that you feel drawn to so many different areas. Maybe you have your own strengths, that a specialist with their head down and focused, wouldn’t have the opportunity to develop. Things like broad, flexible thinking, the ability to speak the “language” of people in different fields so that you can help them understand each other and manage teams. The ability to synthesize disparate ideas and solve problems in one area by drawing on knowledge in an entirely different area. Being a fast learner, building off of past skills, using “good enough” skills to build a new entity without needing as much outside help, experiencing and understanding a wide array of what this world has to offer.
Multipotentialites are not only passionate about their interests, they’re passionate people in general. As a passionate, out-of-the-box thinker with a wide range of tools to draw from, you are in a unique position to inspire others.
Throwing out the need to be the best, or to find your one true calling, will free you. It will allow you to live a much more harmonious and fulfilling life—a life that is aligned with who you really are.
How has letting go of the need to be “the best” impacted your life?