I was listening to another video from the world of Simon Sinek and he touched on a very interesting topic, rankings. A lot of businesses seek out rankings to validate their business, yet we don’t always agree upon the criteria were/they’re being judged on. Why do we place such importance on them? Simon believes instead of focusing on being ranked and having a sense of “achievement” we should be focused on advancement. Let’s talk.
I like to relate sports to most of the articles that I write, so today I want to talk about my time as a wrestler. Starting in high school I remember how our coach used to post the rankings on our wall in the wrestling room. These rankings were not only the external rankings (the entire state), but also our internal (highest team points, most takedowns, etc..). I always found myself checking them to see where I was or where my teammates and friends ended up. Looking back now I even found myself obsessed with these rankings in college.
In college I was blessed to be a part of a successful team in which we won two national titles during my tenure. I also was honored to start for the majority of my career until I began to get injured. I remember caring about where my opponents were ranked in the nation and where we were as a team. I saw that it affected my performance. I was not as active or willing to take risks against these opponents because I wanted to beat them to secure my spot in the rankings. Yet why were these important or even relevant at all? We see all the time in sports from basketball to football where a team gets upset in a big tournament or loses to someone they shouldn’t. So why do we place such importance on being “ranked”?
I want to look at a wrestler named Kyle Snyder. I believe he has gotten it right and Simon has formalized his mindset. I believe Kyle no longer looks at rankings, or cares where he falls in the opinion of someone else. He continually competes against himself each day to get better. This is how Simon believes businesses should run; it’s not about achievement it’s about advancement. Simon says (pun intended) that these rankings are not even based on the same criteria. You may be #1 in customer service, yet rank low in employee satisfaction. You may have a high safety rating, but low in customer retention. What’s important in one scale may be irrelevant in the next. The scales we rate ourselves on in sports and in life are all different and we have not even agreed on the criteria in which we are ranked. We always look for the poll in which we are highest and showcase it around as if it were something of importance, when really we should be focusing on ourselves.
Simon was talking about an education summit that he spoke at for both Microsoft and for Apple. At the end of the Microsoft summit he was gifted the new Zune that had just come out. Simon talks about how great of a design and how user friendly the technology was, he was amazed. Then after the Apple summit he was riding with an Apple executive and decided to “stir the pot”. Simon showed the executive the Zune and was bragging to him about how much better than the IPod it was. The apple executive responded shockingly to Simon by saying, “I have no doubt that it is better”, the conversation was over. This is because Apple does not focus on their competition. They are not trying to be better than the competition, they are trying to be better than themselves. They don’t care about where they are ranked or what products their competition is releasing, they are focused on how we improve upon what we have today to be better tomorrow. They are playing two different games, one to be better than the other and one to be better than themselves. This is why rankings do not matter.
In our everyday lives we will constantly be scrutinized by other businesses and other people for our ideas and ways of doing things. We will constantly be measured on scales, rankings, and ratings systems for criteria we may or may not agree upon or thought were applicable ourselves or our business. We need to stop caring about it. We need to focus on advancement over achievement. How do we get 1% better today, so we can be better than we were before? Focus on making yourself better, not living up to the standards of your competition or to the ideals of some scale made up on some ranking system. Work to be better than you were yesterday.