Repeat after me, “I am not a P. I am better than average. I will not accept the minimum. I am not a P.” As Type A’s I’m sure this is a morning mantra we all repeat to ourselves in front of the mirror before we start our days in residency and perhaps say to ourselves before we hit the submit button on the platform. For most of us however, at some point we will receive the dreaded “P” and for the real over achievers the dreaded “HP”.
I know for me I go through several stages when I don’t perform at the level I have set for myself. First is the feeling like I am going to puke because I am so disappointed in myself. Then there is the stage where I bang my forehead on the desk in cries of agony, “Why? Why Professor Anton? Why me? Why my paper? Whhhhyyyyyyyyyy?????” Okay, perhaps not that dramatic, but you get the point. Then I move on to the justification. “Well apparently he didn’t read my brilliant and excellent analysis of X. If he truly understood X he would have seen I am the best Y since the dawning of time. It’s not my fault my brilliance has eclipsed even the sun’s rays. I will wait for the day the reptilian aliens are defeated and the good aliens take over and show that I am an enlightened one.” Yes, for that brief egotistical moment I sore on my own flights of grandeur, until the reality that I just received the grade from one of Duke’s number one ranked faculty sets in. SPLAT! I am now back on solid ground, where I am left with my humility and a less than optimal grade. Okay, okay, I suck, I f*ed up, I earned a bad grade. Now how do I fix it?
How China redefines leadership…
As the clock struck 08:08:08 PM on 08/08/08, three words filled the air around 100,000 souls – “Citius, Altius, Fortius” – Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and motto of the modern Olympic games that has inspired hundreds of thousands of athletes in the past century. But what did it mean for China, a country that had never staged an international event of such a magnitude?
The Beijing 2008 Olympics were not just a symbol of China’s sporting prowess, but of becoming a powerful nation. So, is China perfect now? No doubt, it struggles with issues any other developing nation does, but by adopting the higher-faster-stronger principle, it manages to take the giant leap.
Time and again, we are faced with the question – “To do it the best?” or “To be the best?” The former reflects ability while the latter reflects attitude. The only way out is to set our eyes on “To be the best”. With the right attitude, ability can be fostered. But without attitude, ability is orphan.
In fact, I used this lesson in a feedback to one of my team member who was dissatisfied with his performance evaluation. His view was – “I’ve done better than I did last time”. In other words he did his best. But was he better than others? In these competitive times, one has to look outward for improvement – China’s “satellite vision” scans the world to see what is best. It then sets out to better it. Be it the Bird’s Nest or the Water Cube – world’s finest architects were hired to build these magnificent structures, a befitting example of China’s better-than-the-best mindset.