Friday, September 2, 2011

If You’re Comparing, You’re Probably Losing


Last century I rooted for the Red Sox.  I’m still a fan, but last century in particular they lost habitually to the Yankees.  This went on for most of a hundred years. Consequently, the conversation in Boston was always about the Yankees.  Why we were really better than them last year.  Why we are better than them this year.  Why we will be better than them next year.

If you’re comparing, you’re probably losing.

Last century I went to school at Brown.  Now, Brown is a great college, and I had a great experience, but (at least) when I attended folks spent a lot of time worrying about what was going on at Harvard.  Why our professors were better.  How we were more collaborative.  Why our exam schedule made more sense.  How we had better chances of getting into grad school.

If you’re comparing, you’re probably losing.

Needless to say, when I lived in New York, nobody talked about Boston.  Ditto Harvard and Brown.

This week the New York Times reported that “It seems to be a national obsession in India: measuring the country’s economic development against China’s yardstick. . .Indians, in fact, seem to talk endlessly about all things China. . . .”

Again I would submit, if you’re comparing, you’re probably losing.

BMW did not spend years arguing that it was better than Infinity.  

When you visit the Smiths and they are neurotically comparing their home, car, and vacation to the Jones down the street, well. . .

Benchmarking is good.  Shooting to overtake a competitor is noble.  But obsessively comparing is a sure sign of rank.

Here’s the difference in Boston between 1980 and 2011: We don’t talk much about the Yankees anymore.  But we sure do compare ourselves endlessly to Silicon Valley.

Like I said. . .