I went out for dinner with the family the other night, and my daughter – in a particularly indecisive moment – couldn't decide between a number of different dishes on the menu.
So she asked the waiter, when he came to take our order …
"I can't decide," she told him. "I'm thinking maybe this one, or this one, or this one …" as she pointed to them all.
"Which one is better?"
He shrugged. "Well they're all very different," he said, "and they're all very good. It depends what you feel like eating most."
Not overly helpful, but he had a point to be honest.
"Better" wasn't really the issue. They were all bound to be good. So it did, really, depend on what she actually wanted to eat most.
The waiter could have told her which he, personally, preferred … but ultimately, it was subjective. Only my daughter was really able to choose exactly which of those meals was going to be the better choice for her.
And that conclusion, or decision, would ultimately come down to what she most wanted to eat right then.
In this case it wasn't an overly difficult, or important, decision. But it made me think about how much we use the word "better" …
And how much importance we place on things being "better".
When really, "better" isn't always the important thing.
The important thing is meeting a need.
Imagine if you went into a DIY store, and asked the shop assistant, "Which is better – this screwdriver, or this spanner?"
What do you think they would say?
Yep … they'd ask what you need it for …!
A screwdriver isn't better than a spanner, and a spanner isn't better than a screwdriver. They both do a job, and that’s the important thing. So, it depends what the job is that you need doing.
"Which is better for tightening a screw – this screwdriver, or this spanner?"
Now THAT is a question we can answer.
It's the screwdriver.
In fact, I challenge you to find anything that will tighten a screw as well as a screwdriver does. So it's not only "better" … for that particular job, it's the perfect tool. It's EXACTLY what you need!
When we're self-employed … particularly when we're starting out … we often focus on needing to be "better".
We need to be "better" than our competition, before we can charge those higher rates.
We need to be "better" than our competition, before we can compete at all.
We need to be "better" at certain tasks; have more experience; improve our knowledge … and then we will be able to charge more, work less, enjoy the freedom that spurred us to set out on this path in the first place.
But maybe being "better" isn't the thing we need to be worrying about?
Maybe trying to be "better" will mean that we never really get started? Or never really stand out? Maybe trying to be "better" is just too vague.
Maybe, instead, we just need to focus on the TASK that we are able to fulfil.
Focus on being the PERFECT TOOL for that task.
Focus on solving THAT particular problem.
Focus on our clients understanding exactly what it is that we can do for them.
And on them knowing that we are able to do exactly that job.
So maybe we don't need to be "better" than others … maybe we just need to focus on our message …
Be different. Be clearer. Be defined.
Be a specific tool, for a specific need.
Be a screwdriver, for clients that need to tighten a screw.
Then we can stop competing with spanners 😉