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Mike's Spot

Second Place


Now, I'm not a keen advocate of second place. There are those who believe that winning a silver medal is something of an achievement, that it means that although you didn't get gold you can still feel proud and hold your head high.

Personally I maintain that second place is the worst position to be in. Like it or not, if you've come second, you've lost. Someone else has beaten you and you may as well face up to the fact. Furthermore, if you've come second, you've ended up with the worst effort to reward ratio possible. You've clearly striven very hard to achieve the position you've got yet you still haven't won.

The person who came in last place is better off than you. At least he hasn't had to expend a lot of effort to achieve what he got. It is my belief that the only goals that are worth achieving are first or last. It's all or nothing and anything in between is the height of mediocrity, at least it would be if mediocrity had a height.

However, there are a few situations in which second is actually best. Take for example the invention of the telephone by Leonardo da Vinci. A true genius, I will concede, but this invention turned out to be completely useless and so naturally Leonardo da Vinci is not widely hailed as its inventor.

It wasn't until Alexander Graham Bell invented the second telephone that the value of this invention was appreciated. Unfortunately, when Alexander Graham Bell rang up Leonardo da Vinci he found he'd been dead for four hundred years.

Similarly, anyone who has caught the tube on the Circle/Metropolitan or Hammersmith And City line from Baker Street may have noticed a plaque on the wall notifying you that this was the first ever station on the London Underground. What is the point of having a first station? The Underground only became usable when the second station was built.

There are many other examples, such as being the world's greatest hairdresser who can at best only ever have the world's second best haircut. Or coming in first to work to impress colleagues and superiors with your punctuality. It is the second person to arrive whose arrival will be noticed.


Mike's Spot
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