A Word to the Wise

You do not have to be the best, to be the best.

Let me explain.

I had this epiphany while I was working at the airport today, and since it hit me, it has yet to leave my mind. The idea that you don’t have to be the best to be the best. I think people are too often thought to be the best simply because of their raw talent and skills. But I don’t think this is true-not all the time at least. I think a big part of being successful is your self drive and motivation. It’s the sweat that collects on your shirt after a workout, the seemingly endless piles of trace overlays that lead you to the best design, the cut, re-glued, re-cut study models that inspire a final model completed just hours before your final critique. Sure, I know people that are seemingly perfect. The professor drools over their design, time and time again. They go to the gym for 20 minutes every two days and come out looking live they’ve lived there. And that’s fine. That works for them. I understand that and can appreciate it-sort of.

However, there are also those who have these said talents and skills yet make it no where near the top. This is where the line is drawn. For these people, their success is limited by their drive. They can have the greatest potential of all, but will never make it to the next level, simply because they lack the self motivation necessary. It’s like growing watermelon (sorry, I love watermelon). You may have the best watermelon seed in the world, but if you don’t plant it, fertilize it, water it, etc., it remains nothing more than just a seed.

As time goes on, I’ve realized that I’m not the best student studying architecture. But I don’t need to be. I know what my skills are, and this sets a starting point for me. My effort is what will get me to the next level. There’s no doubt that there were smarter, better students in my studio class last spring, but I managed to have as good of a grade as anyone in the course. Because of effort. For some, it comes at ease, for others, its a struggle, a mix of failures and successes. What may take the “brightest and the smartest” 10 minutes, might take me 30. And that’s fine by me.

In the real world, it is almost guaranteed that someone will always be better than you. Personally, I’ve accepted that. But that doesn’t mean I can’t reach their level. I might just take a different path. The final results will always be a combination of skills and effort. So if you can compliment the ‘lack’ of skills with your higher level of effort, it becomes a level playing field. Am I right?

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