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When second place is better than first:
You settle for #2 when the payoff for #1 isn’t worth the investment of time/energy/money etc. So, let’s say being #1 has a very small increase in the reward you get while requiring much more from you to get it.
This is called “diminishing returns.”
Do you really need to be #1 to get the results you’re looking for?
In many cases, you might think being #1 at something is what you want, when in reality, it is the emotions, money, freedom, confidence, etc. that it brings you. And, a lot of times you can get that by being #2 at the same thing without having to give up as much to be #1.
You may have a better ratio of returns vs requirements for the #2 spot than #1.
Example: Would you rather be the #2 richest person in the world and have more time to spend with your family or have to give up everything else in life to be able to put in enough work to be #1.
Would the extra few billion dollars make a difference on top of the billions you have? Probably not. Would the extra stress, loss of time, and diminishing relationships make a difference?
Yes, it would probably have lasting, negative effects.
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