There’s a big difference between being “the best” and “one of the best.”

Image: sahmeepee via Flickr, Creative Commons

The Best

means that you are indubitably, unequivocally, indisputably the best in who you are, what you do, and what you stand for,

no matter who – or what – else you are compared with, or what others might be exposed to.


Any time.

Across any industry. Or time zone.

One of the Best

means that you are, when compared to your peers, at the higher end of the scale, but recognizing

That there is a frame of reference for everything.

That while someone might consider you “better” than someone else, the opposite could just as well hold true, if another person were asked.

That you are not an island ruling the world but, rather, one in an archipelago of quite delightful islands… that a certain group of people have visited, and been charmed by.

The Best

could lead you to believe that you have no competition.

That you are a law unto yourself.

That you are a law unto others.

One of the Best

should instead lead you to realize that your work is never done.

That you still have miles to go, and lessons to learn.

That you are only as good as your last success, and have to persevere for the next one.

There’s nothing wrong with someone calling you “the best.”

As long as you recognize that this praise is limited by their frame of reference.

And not their fame of reference.


Are you “the best”?

Or “one of the best”?

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke