Bigger better faster stronger. When I’m teaching I’ll often make fun of this idea because a) it’s not an idea, and b) it only gets embraced as an idea by people who wouldn’t know a good idea if it came up to them and introduced itself.
I make fun of “bigger better faster stronger”-type thinking because it’s so very (North) American; it pre-supposes that more is better. It does so by way of crafting seemingly sensible truisms: Bigger is bigger than smaller; faster is faster than slower; stronger is stronger than weaker. The “better” is the glue that holds this somewhat silly premise together. Because the word “better” is in there, some erroneously believe that this notion makes sense. Except it doesn’t.
Sometimes bigger, faster and stronger are absolutely what you need. If you’re run blocking, running a race, or lifting a weight. But there’s a difference between better and situationally better. So, yeah, faster is better than slower if you’re running a race, but what about if you’re woodworking, or, say, explaining a concept to a child? Being big is great if you’re an offensive tackle, but what if you’re a gymnast, or, say, want to fit into a Mini Cooper?
My friend Kelly quoted Faulkner to me a few years ago while we were talking about personal improvement, and his words come to mind: “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
I think “bigger better faster stronger”-type thinking comes from not really understanding this point and points like it. The “more is better” philosophy comes from wanting to beat someone else, and the missed point is that ”better” isn’t always about quantitative comparison. “Better” is largely subjective and can mean a lot of different things. As it is both quantitative and qualitative, it behooves us to know what is actually better for our businesses, organizations, and ourselves.
Oftentimes, it’s not more.