Being the Best Is Not Enough

Being the best, meaning having the best technical skills. It is not a rare thing for me to meet with someone, typically a fellow developer, who will give me the impression that having figured it all out about a technology is what makes you the best match for working on a particular project.

I believe this statement is wrong and it may sound straightforward to say. But identifying what we are missing when we think like that is a bit less obvious. We are irrational beings. Being so, the decisions we make are influenced by our impressions, and what people inspire us. One would not be happy having to work in close collaboration with the most highly skilled technician if that person was also known for being a dangerous cannibal. That is because, no matter how much we want a project to be driven good, we rather not be eaten while working on it.

Great leaders empower others, and they do so not by undermining themselves. Irritation and cynicism come when a person faces an inability to solve a problem, and they are contagious things. If we are not careful, our frustrations could affect our teammates, which could be even worst than not solving the initial problem. This is true for leaders, but it is also true for anyone working in a team.

I think that, being able to involve on solving a problem, while saving enough energy just for being able to smile, keep cool or maybe tell a joke is the best possible gift we can offer to people who are near us. The hardest the problem is to solve, the more difficult it is to be that person. Having the chance to work with some people who are dealing with so much more pressure than I am, and talking about it with disconcerting lightness is an incredible source of inspiration.

Know and share your goals, identify your levers, and when it comes to something that you can’t solve on your own, ask for good help by keeping your speech precise and factual. Avoid the slippery slope arguments that lead to alarmist speeches, over-dramatization and exaggeration.

Be kind and be useful and caring about people who are less fortunate than you.

Former president Obama

CNBC reported that quote from former president Obama during the opening session of the first Obama Foundation Summit. The more skills you have, the more chances there are for you to find an opportunity to be useful to somebody, which eventually will make you happy.

But being the best is not enough. In a time of crisis like the one we are living right now where it is easy to loose one’s marks, I believe that the ability to keep calm, nice and stable is what really makes the uniqueness of a person.

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