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
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
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