Are Unique And Being The Best Antithetical?

Last week I read a blog post that was supposed to be about leadership that irked me to much I had to write a blog post about it on my business blog. The topic was about whether it was better to be the best or even try to be the best versus being unique when it came to getting business and leading others.

Silly snoopy snack bento
Sakurako Kitsa via Compfight

In my eyes I believe that it’s imperative that people always try to be the best they can be, and to be the best overall if possible. Being unique… heck, everyone’s unique when you think about it, but there are times where being unique can help when you’re trying to catch someone’s eye if everyone happens to be very good. Unique can help one get sales whether they’re good or not, but being good, or trying to be the best, keeps people coming back for more.

And yet, I’m not sure these two concepts are necessarily antithetical. Yup, it’s vocabulary word time again; always trying to educate when I can. 🙂 The basic definition of “antithetical” is “being in direct and unequivocal opposition“. Sure, I could have gone with dichotomy, but I’ve over-used that one over the years.

Getting back to the topic, who wouldn’t agree that one could not only try to be the best but also be unique? I know many people who believe that everything Apple is both unique and the best. I know people who believe Ferrari’s are both unique and the best. Personally I think Snoopy is unique and the best; that’s about as far as I’m going with this analogy.

It’s one of the things I’ve indirectly talked about all these years when it comes to blogging. Often I see what looks like the same content and the same lists and the same recommendations coming from different people in exactly the same way. Even if it’s good advice there’s nothing unique about it. And at a certain point it’s not even great advice anymore because all it’s doing is parroting what someone else is saying and not offering anything that’s even close to great or attempting to be great. I add that because greatness is pretty subjective based on whoever is doing the evaluation when all is said and done.

In any case I’d like to know your thoughts on this subject, but with a twist. Many of the long time readers know that I will remove lousy comments. Let’s see if some of you newer commenters can leave a response that’s either great or unique in some fashion. If it’s not either, I’ll probably just delete it. Long timers get a break because they’ve left good and great comments before. In other words, put your mind to use on this one; unique or great. Otherwise, you’re not even trying; hey, I did use the word “antithetical” after all. 🙂

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11 comments on “Are Unique And Being The Best Antithetical?

  • Hi mitch, In my opinion, Being the best and unique one is defferent based on point of view’s people. After all, they’re judging us on presentation of our business. For example, you said that Apple are both best and unique, but for me, it’s not yet. It’s because I see the unique from variety looks such the OS developments and its pysical form. And Apple has not meet my requirements that make me want to say that their products is unique…

    • Actually Meisha, I said a lot of people think Apple is the best; I don’t own anything “i”. lol The true point is how you feel about yourself and how you want to be seen. In my opinion, I want people to think I’m the best. Truthfully, in my industry I’m already unique, and that hasn’t gotten me anywhere. What has gotten me into some places is past performance and recommendations from people who saw some of that performance. True, in initially trying to market it’s hard to prove you’re the best because everyone’s saying it, so one might need to find ways of getting in front of someone so you can then have the opportunity to show the best of yourself.

  • Jeevanjacobjohn says:

    What is unique?

    I mean, every idea we think of..we don’t make it out of thin air, do we? We use a collection of existing ideas and we put them together in order to make a new idea. Nothing is unique, in that sense.

    It all comes down to how we define unique 😀

    Is Apple unique? Yes, they did innovate. But, are their new products unique?

    Sure, to an extent they are unique (As a person who is interested in Technology, I don’t believe Apple’s current products are innovative – at least not to the extent they used to be. Apple fan might disagree).

    Everyone is unique, and yet everyone is similar. Being you is unique…and only you can be the best you (unless you can completely become an another person. For that, you might need telepathic – to gain access into the mind – and shape shifting powers :D).

    Interesting post, as usual 😉 Thanks for starting the discussion, Mitch 😀

    • That’s kind of how I see things Jeevan; at least we hope most people are unique because I’ve had my rants here and there about seeing the same blog post with almost the same exact words on multiple blogs here and there. One of the things Apple did was market themselves as unique, and truthfully at the beginning a lot of what they came out with was pretty unique at the time. But they also marketed themselves as the best, and even now there are people who believe that Macs don’t ever get viruses; now that’s salesmanship!

  • “Best” implies a categorized group exists and whatever is deemed the best is the superior member within the group. “Unique”, by definition, does not share the same traits as the categorized group. So in the most basic definition of each word, they are antithetical.

    In application, however, it is more complicated. It depends a lot about how you define the categorized group. If you took inventory of all the cars on a given freeway, the Ferrari might be the best and unique among all the cars people normally drive. However, change the group of cars to those owned by hollywood stars and the Ferrari may still be the best but it is certainly not unique.

    When discussing people, rather than manufactured products, the analysis changes because we are commonly classified as cohorts based upon external factors, such as where we live, when we were born, the industry we work in, or our work title. In your job, among your peers, you may be the best or unique, but you can also be the best because you are unique. You may share job title and responsibilities with your peers but because you do your job with X skill or technique that may make you the top performer and unique because you are the only one who does X. If other people started also doing X you might still be the best but it would be hard to say you are both unique and the best. So to that end, our uniqueness and to an extent our being the best is externally controlled by the decisions of others.
    Adam Kielich recently posted…Dad said to be unfit because he would not take his kid to McDonald’sMy Profile

    • That’s pretty interesting stuff Adam and may I say that your comment was truly unique and probably the best on this topic so far.

      You brought up some interesting examples in explaining how the two concepts are antithetical, and yet I’m not truly convinced. Your premise is that “unique” applies to an individual and thus is uncategorized and yet I think of someone like Olga Korbut, who did something quite unique and in the minds of many was also the best but in the context of her group she didn’t score as high as we thought she would because there were “norms” she was supposed to show that she missed. With that example the concepts of unique and best certainly aren’t antithetical.

      And yet, the overall premise is that the concepts don’t have to be seen as such. There’s nothing wrong with both trying to be the best and be unique at the same time. I used to practice the piano upwards of 5 hours a day and got really good, and some people thought I was the best piano player they’d ever seen, and yet I knew I’d never be able to play a Rachmoninoff piano concerto because my left hand just wouldn’t come together like I needed it to. But it didn’t stop me from practicing and trying to get it there. And being a black male trying to play Rachmaninoff certainly made me unique for the small audience that got to see me trying to hack it out.

      Your last line is interesting as well. No one else determines if I’m giving my best or not. Sure, they might determine I’m not the best or am the best based on whatever it is I do for them, but what’s most important is that I give my best and not slack off just because I might not end up being the best. Most of the time someone else’s best is pretty good; that’s what I thought about the guy who initially painted my house after I spilled paint on the rug. 🙂

  • Being the best just come with a lot of hard work.
    Being unique is something else, that might or might not pop in your head. But in my opinion, unicity doesn’t really mean that nobody else do the same thing. It just means that you don’t copy whatever the others do. You’re starting a new theater company ? Don’t go to every theater in the world to look for great ideas, find yours, someone else might have come to the same idea, but you’ll be unique in the way you do it.

  • My wife and I were talking about this topic just this morning. It seems to me that so much of what succeeds today is duplication of what succeeded yesterday. It doesn’t matter if it was mediocre — if it sold then, it’ll sell now. And it does.

    Discouraging, isn’t it?
    bronxboy55 recently posted…The Magic Bullet of ChangeMy Profile

    • It’s kind of discouraging Charles, because it seems that no one wants to take many chances, and with everything so critical as it comes to money it’s hard to be mad at them. I think of how many movies I don’t go to, and I suspect many others think like me, and in the past year I can’t think of a single movie I went to where I didn’t already know the story or know the characters because I knew I’d like those movies. Hey, it’s my fault! lol

  • Hi Mitch, you’re touching 2 deep philosophical concepts that go way back in time and way beyond that online marketing strategy or the other. A few years before Facebook was invented, and when pandas and penguins were rarely mentioned in the same breath, there lived a wise philosopher named Aristotle, who among other things coined the term ‘second nature’, in plain English “acquired behavior that is practiced so long it seems innate”, in other words, practice until it becomes a second nature, excel, outdo, be the best! But wait, what about our first nature then? what is our first nature? Well part of it is “cultural copying”, less in the sense of plagiarism, more in the sense of a social learning strategy. Huh… got a feeling I am in the wrong forum, apologies if I’ve gone too deep, all I mean in short is that you copy at first and then you become unique. Cheers.
    Florence Jones recently posted…The rich red hue makes these pair the perfect shoe for the holidays!My Profile

    • Great stuff Florence. You’re calling it “cultural copying”, but I might change it to “refining one’s individuality based on cultural norms”. Overall, some people are going to follow many of the norms while others are going to reject those norms and hope that they’ve found a better way. In that aspect everyone is already unique, even those trying to copy someone else, because it’s hard to be someone else.

      However, trying to be the best… I’m not sure everyone actually tries to be the best based on historical observation. Some folks just want to get by, and I think that’s a shame. I asked a group of younger people if any of them had leadership aspects and all of them said no. Their worry was suddenly being responsible for things, possibly losing their jobs, and not being able to get anything else. That’s always a major worry and yet by trying to be the best you have the possibility of making more money, upward growth and mobility, and a real chance to make a difference.

      At least that’s how I think about things. Thanks for your comment & welcome to the blog.


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