Don't be great.
I know... that's kind of a weird thing to say, but I feel like I'm at a place in my life/career
where it makes sense.
For perspective I'll start a bit earlier in my journey. I spent years in and after high-school and throughout college with no desire to succeed. I just wanted to be done with the tasks that were giving to me and go home. I was consumed with the fact that I spent so much time on school and work, and I was hardly any further along my career path - even after all of that time.
I stumbled around for a while with confusing thoughts restricting any motivation I could muster up. Being a creative type, I spent a lot of time in the creative/digital landscape, but I wondered why I wasn't on the path that I knew I should have been on.
At a certain point I just said "screw this."
I decided that no matter what I did, I was going to do it as well as humanly possible. I've kind of always had that mentality, but in the past there was no motivation behind it. To be honest, I think this motivation grew out of frustration. Frustration that I wasn't excelling. Frustration that I wasn't being listened to. Frustration that I wasn't the best.
That frustration was key. I realized that I didn't want to be great. I didn't want to excel.
I wanted to be the best.
After years of trying to figure out what I wanted to do, I realized that motivation, confidence, and, pride came from trying to be the best. I loved to do so many things and I couldn't chose just one. I realized that I needed to be the best at being great at a lot of things. That was, and is my path. I can honestly say that there is very little competitive motive behind this desire, I just want to make the best decisions, make people happy, and make people successful, (and maybe have some of my own at the end of the day....)
I think that there are two simple ways to understand this logic. The first, is to consider the fact that people don't choose "great" over "best." It just doesn't happen. If someone actually does choose "great", it isn't because they wanted to. They will still have that voice in their gut that whispers, "I wonder how much better that 70 inch TV would look in here." Great" is number two, number three, and so forth. "Best" is number one, and nothing less.
My second reason for trying to be the best, is that there is no other challenge that is tougher. Not only is it a challenge to be the best that you can individually, but even more so when you're compared to everyone else in your industry. If you do become the best at what you do, it's an even BIGGER challenge to stay there. Once you become the best, you will probably fall into that "great" category automatically, so why not reach for both.
Don't be great. Great is boring. Be the best.