When you’re trying to push ahead in your career, it’s a gut reaction to emulate the person on top of the pile. You want to be first, so you heed advice and take cues from the person in first place. However, Time says you could be better off following the person in second place if you really want to succeed.
Photo by Gerry.
It turns out it’s all about skill and the fact that first-place finishers often take the most risks. Time explains:
Over time, the most skilled players came to inhabit a second tier of reliable competence. Those who succeeded spectacularly – who took their places in the first tier – were often not the most skilled, but rather were those who got some lucky breaks early on or took big risks that happened to pay off. Emulating these top performers would probably lead to disappointment, since imitators would be unlikely to replicate their good fortune.
Time’s example is in the form of a game, but when you’re learning a new skill, it’s best to take your lead from the second-best. It’s not a hard and fast rule by any means. Risks are often worth taking, but if you’re looking for a steady advisor, you might be better off with the person in second.