Best in the World or for the World? by Craig Johnson

I’m always amazed by people who are the best at what they do. These are people that dedicate their life to an instrument, a sport, an invention, acting, politics, etc. I’m talking about true and raw talent. Unbridled excellence. They have reached the Gladwell “10,000-hour” mark and have mastered their craft. These people sit first-chair in the orchestra, play professional basketball and win every spelling bee in grade school. They collect every award, scholarship, and are paraded around at family reunions as the pride of the family. Though inspiring at times, they also are often a blatant and discouraging reminder of what we have not quite accomplished ourselves.

These people are the Best in the World.

Then there is another group of people. People who are much less impressive on paper. They didn’t make it into an Ivy League school and, in fact, may have dropped out of school. They’re not particularly concerned with their resume or personal accolades. They don’t claim to be the best at what they do, and truth be told, they aren’t.

But, there is something about them that makes them stand out. They don’t get bogged down with details and are always seeing the bigger picture. They are less focused on their own abilities and spend a significant amount of time supporting and involving themselves with those around them. They give people the freedom to focus on their potential instead of their inabilities. Ironically, it’s more likely that they are leaders in their peer groups and in their industries. They are the ones that have a tribe of fans, followers, and friends. They are people of influence.

These people are the Best for the World.

The biggest distinction between being the best in the world and the best for the world is impact. If you are the best in the world, we will learn a lot about how great you are and admire your talent or ability. But if you are the best for the world, you will help others believe in how great they may become. I draw inspiration from those that fall in the “Best for the World” category. They may be individuals or they may even be brands. They may be famous or just a close friend. But instead of wishing I were more like them, they make me glad to be me. They inspire me to inspire others.

I’m definitely a proponent of people trying to master a craft and pursue their passion or talent. I just also believe, in reflecting upon my own life recently, that there is a slight distinction in what it means to be the “best.”

If I want to have a positive impact on this world, no matter what my trade or skill, it starts with my influence on those around me. My focus needs to be not just on being the best in the world, but on being the best for the world.