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The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

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?” Leveraging your mind, body, and spirit to navigate the chaos requires making one decision after another. All too often, people fail to stop and reflect upon their decision-making process. Doing so allows people to gain the self-awareness necessary to better leverage their mind, body, and spirit and make the decisions appropriate for any given life situation. One decision-making paradigm that exists as a strategy to navigate the chaos is the framework of best versus right.

As discussed elsewhere in this Navigate the Chaos series, all too often people believe that selecting or pursuing the best of something is the only thing that matters when in reality they should have been considering the right option. Deciding on best versus right takes a strong work ethic, a self-aware mind, and a conscious decision to consider one’s current life situation. The best is seductive but it is seldom right.

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.

When your mind starts to think in such a fashion, you may want to consider pausing for a moment and reflect upon your decision-making process. If you truly believe there is a best school, you are then assuming all other institutions are inferior and as such, anyone who graduates from those second-tier colleges will have mediocre careers. Do you honestly believe that those who graduate from the best schools, however best is defined, are the only people who succeed in life? Nonsense.

As Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell noted in their 2018 book The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors that Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders “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.” One person who navigated the chaos by implementing this strategy of deciding on the right over the best was Herb Brooks.

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. 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 his 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 you consider best versus right?

  • Are you so consumed by pursuing the best that you have overlooked what is right?

  • Do you even have the self-awareness required to understand that your obsession with the best blinded you to what was right for you at a given life situation?

  • Why do you think people obsess over the best at the expense of what is right for them?

  • How do you define best in a given situation? For example, how do you define the best college?

  • Why are you holding on to the belief that the best option is the only option?

  • If you are using the strategy of pursuing the best have you ever stopped to consider how doing so might prohibit you from leveraging your mind, body, and spirit?


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