How often do you consider best v. right?

Today is April 17 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you consider best versus right?” Navigating the chaos and practicing the art of living well requires making one decision after another. The best versus right decision is too often overlooked. Successful people, however, spend a good deal of time comparing their best option to the right one. This is an important steppingstone to use as people will often be blinded by the allure of the “best” of something instead of the “right” one.

This is often the case with the selection of what college to attend or major to select. People believe that they need to go to the best school. The best school provides the best education with the best major, and the best opportunities to get the best job for the best career to have the best life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell published The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders in 2018 and concluded “earning an MBA from an elite university is not the fastest way to reach the corner office.”

Moreover, additional research conducted by best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell provides further evidence. In his book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants, Gladwell noted: “We strive for the best and attach great importance to getting into the finest institutions we can. But rarely do we stop and consider whether the most prestigious of institutions is always in our best interest.”

That type of thinking can be applied to almost anything in life. When making a decision, are you focused on the best option or the right one? Do you have the self-awareness required to choose the right one? If there are advantages to going to the best school, are there disadvantages? How do you define best? Is the best correct for everyone? If you went with the right decision instead of the best one are you less of a person? If one has a critical eye and an open mind, there usually are. It is also important to remember that others will disagree with your view on what is the best option compared to the right one.

The 1980 U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey team’s defeat of the Soviet Union (and then Finland) to take home the gold medal provides a case study in best v. right. The victory over the Soviet Union became one of the most iconic moments of the Games and in U.S. sports. Equally well-known was the television call of the final seconds of the game by Al Michaels for ABC, in which he declared: "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"

In the 2004 file Miracle the dialogue between U.S. team assistant coach Craig Patrick (played by Noah Emmerich) and head coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) highlights Brooks’ approach. It is early in the team tryouts in Colorado Springs and Patrick is looking over a roster of the names of the final 26 players (which eventually will be cut to 20), and with a tone of surprise he says to Herb, “You’re missing some of the best players.” And Herb responds, “I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones.”

As the head coach of the University of Minnesota Books picked several of players as well as several from their rivals, Boston University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. To compete with the Soviet Union team specifically, Brooks developed a hybrid of the rugged, physical North American style and the faster European style, which emphasized creativity and teamwork. He also stressed peak conditioning, believing that one of the reasons the Soviet team had dominated international competition was that many of their opponents were exhausted by the third period.

In perhaps one of the greatest examples of irony in recent history Brooks was the last player cut from the 1960 Olympic team a week before the games started. Three weeks later, Brooks sat at home with his father and watched the team he almost made win gold in Squaw Valley. Afterwards, Brooks "went up to the coach Jack Riley and said, 'Well, you must have made the right decision—you won.’” This humbling moment served as further motivation for Brooks, an already self-driven person.

“He was the right coach at the right time with the right players,” son Danny Brooks said. “And here we are 40 years later still talking about it.”

How often do consider best versus right when comparing between options?