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Lately I have become intrigued by the word "Best".

When I was beginning in my surveying career, I told my father that I wanted to be the best surveyor there was. His response was: "Remember, David, being best is a matter of opinion, either yours or someone else's, and neither matters."

Now, after 54 years of being in the profession, I have realized the wisdom of his response to me.

If you think you are the best, you are looking "down" on others. If others think you are the best, they are looking "up" to you.  Neither is good for your character.

David C. Garcelon

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  • Land Surveyor

    I love quotes.

    Great men are said to have four things in common: They speak softly, have a capacity for hard work, a deep conviction for their cause, and a consuming belief in their ability to do it. -- John D. Hess (1918-2004), Writer


    Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers. --Daniel J. Boorstin (1914-2004), Historian and writer

    "Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best." -- Henry Van Dyke

    Greatness is not standing above our fellows and ordering them around--it is standing with them and helping them to be all they can be. -- G. Arthur Keough (1909-1989), Educator

    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8 (NIV)
    I think a lot of what you're talking about in being "the best" is your view of yourself. I agree that you shouldn't think yourself better than others. You should, however, be able to have confidence in your talents and skills and knowledge gained from your experiences. I believe we should strive to "do our best" but that doesn't mean we compare ourselves. As humans I don't think we can help comparisons, but we can try to humble ourselves when those things come into our minds.


    Bible Gateway passage: Micah 6:8 - New International Version
    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
  • Land Surveyor

    a wise man your father. David

  • Hi David,

    Interesting view... I have been a surveyor for many years, but only started my own company about 2 years ago... Since then I have been confronted with the same issue. I realized that its impossible to be the best... there will always be someone better... Also, one might be a great surveyor, but there are other areas that many surveyors are inherently bad at i.e. people skills, business networking, marketing, admin skills and HR related issues. Not all surveyors, but many of the surveyors I know are amazing when it comes to survey theory, accuracy, professionalism and project management... They focus on these strengths and avoid the areas of business that they don't like (which is perfectly normal)... 

    My conclusion was that you have to decide and document standards that you want to achieve in all areas of your business including the quality of your survey work, admin systems, hr systems, marketing strategy and goals etc... The best way to do this is to include all in a detailed business plan with actions and deliverables for 1 year, 3 years, 5 years... 10 years... When you have achieved all the goals you set out to accomplish... you can re-assess where you are in terms of your own definition of 'the best'... By then you might be one of the best... 

  • Land Surveyor

    "Looking down on others " is a decision you have to make, to me it depends on whether people work for you or with you. 

    Can't  "looking up to you"  be a sign of respect, or a notion that you have achieved some sense of accomplishment within our profession that others can and will want to follow. 

    We will never be the "best" as so seen by so many pin cushions on lot corners. The "best" comes into play when you can produce irrefutable evidence of your decisions when done in accordance to Survey law, practice and code of ethics etc,

    My 2cents worth!!

    • Land Surveyor


      Isn't the person who claims that they are the "best" by that very statement claiming all others are not as good as they are?  Isn't that "looking down" on others?

      Doing the very best you can is far different and far more commendable .. it is something I am sure most surveyors try to do.

      I am sure that most of "we older surveyor" (I have been at it for 54 years) want to have our professional "credentials" respected and would like to think we have accomplished something worthwhile during our careers, but I, for one, have a big ego and don't need it inflated by someone telling me I am the best ....it would make me even more unbearable than I am now!


      • Party Chief

        Very true indeed David--  you're the best!


        With much respect I believe  you to be the best at what you do when you do you the best. We are all only doing what we best know how...

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