Comparing or not comparing – on the difference between excellence and success


Photo by Aloshbennett

There is a difference between success and excellence.

Success is often measured by comparison to others. Excellence, on the other hand, is all about being the best we can be and maximizing our gifts, talents and abilities to perform at our highest potential

This quote is from a post by Jon Gordon and is definitely one of the most captivating posts I have read recently.

I am a big believer in consternating on ourselves and not on anybody else. It is not that we should ignore all the others, but we should just not focus on them so much. Being the best and doing the best we can is much more important. This is something I am sure about when it comes to the personal life, but I am more and more convinced, it is also relevant to the business-professional life as well.

You probably would not believe me, so I will refer to others, smarter than me. The first, Anthony Tjan, from the Harvard Business Review blog, writing about what looking at others might do to a company:

Most small businesses think that big companies have limitless resources and tons of money, and accordingly can do whatever they want. At the same time, most large companies think that all small ones are entrepreneurial, acting quickly, and bursting with creativity. Neither of these common beliefs is true. Most big companies do not throw a lot of resources at every project, and most small companies tend to become stagnant when they are through with their initial, entrepreneurial stage

Second, from the Manifesto: “Hit the Ground Running” by Jason Jennings:

Dos and don’ts of america’s best new CEOs

The Don’ts – Don’t study the competition.

Managers are fascinated with figuring out what the competition has up their sleeve. Most of the time, though, studying of the competition isn’t really justified. It’s simply an exercise in saying “See, we don’t suck as much as they do.”

According to the best new CEOs, studying the competition won’t help you to hit the ground running.

I find these ideas so true. So much of our studies in the MBA is outward focused. What are our competitors are doing? How can we imitate them? What are the benchmarks and best practices of the industry? Let’s analyse our competitors…

I am not saying doing all of these things is not important. It might be very important. I am just saying that it is good to try and sometime focus on excellence. On being the best at what we are doing. On giving the best effort we can give. With no relation to what others are doing.

If you look at some of the best successes in the last few years, they come from companies that looked at the market and did not ask themselves – how do we compare? How can we do what are competitors are doing, just differently or better?

It came from companies that reinvented the game. That left the confines of the industry and created new industries where they excel. Itunes; Google; Twitter; Iphone; are just some of the examples that spring to my mind.

It is time for us to excel. What did you do today in order to excel, not only succeeded.



3 Responses to “Comparing or not comparing – on the difference between excellence and success”

  1. More on stopping with the rules « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] I think it is time to go back to a simpler type of workplace. Where we trust our employees to do the right thing. Where we build infrastructure and give guidance, but we do not set up the specific rules about how to do everything. Where we let people create their own mechanisms of safety, efficiency and motivation instead of using our mechanisms of control. Where trust leads to happiness. Where we promote responsibility and accountability. Where we celebrate common sense, humanism, innovation and excellence. […]

  2. 2010 in review at The Comparative Advantage « The Comparative Advantage Says:

    […] The busiest day of the year was March 8th with 108 views. The most popular post that day was Comparing or not comparing – on the difference between excellence and success. […]

  3. Says:

    i love your book sir i do not mind if i can get more of it, and more about leadership

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