Years ago I had a job interview for a sales position. I sat there with the president of the company while we went over my resume and experience. I was asked all the usual job interview questions and I gave all the usual job interview answers. Then I got a question and I decided to swing for fence. I figured, I’ll say this and this guys will either think I’m a complete asshole, or the best candidate he’s ever interviewed. The question was, “What motivates you?” Admittedly this is not an unusual question for a job interview and I figured he had already heard the typical answers of, “I like being part of a team” or “It’s rewarding to build something” or “I have a family that I need to provide for.” All good answers, but I don’t think anyone is really taken back when they hear them. My answer that day, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I want to be better than everyone else. Every time you talk to or work with or interview a sales person I want you to say, “They’re good, but not as good as Ryan.” That’s it! That’s what motivates me. I don’t want to be good. I don’t want to be the best. I just want to be better than everyone else.
You may be asking, “what’s the difference?” Well… “BEST” is subjective. You can’t say LeBron is “the best”, because he didn’t face off against Jordan while they were both in their primes. And Wilt, Dr. J, and Oscar Robertson weren’t there either. Therefore, it would be impossible to say, “he’s the best” and be completely accurate. But when you’re comparing two people at the same time in the same field, it’s easy to say, “that one’s better.” And if every time someone compares you to someone else they say, “You’re better” you will be very successful in any field you choose.
So this is my advice to anyone who wants to move ahead in their career. Don’t aim to be “the best.” Just look at your closest competitor and try to be better than them. (And in sales, anyone else selling something is a competitor.) Eventually as you rise in your profession the competition will get tougher and tougher so you’ll have to keep working harder and harder to prove that you’re better than the next person. Do this, and you will make it to the top.
So what happened with my job interview. I got it! And I got to prove to them that I was better than everyone else.