The Best or Nothing or At All


Gottlieb Daimler’s motto Das Beste oder nichts, translated from his native German to English, ends up meaning, “The best or nothing at all”. I caught the phrase last night in a new ad campaign that broke during the 2013 World Series for the new 2014 S-Class of cars by the luxury maker, Mercedes-Benz. Those iconic words, according to legend, were written and strategically placed in front of  factory employees to “inspire, provoke and push” the collective team to build the best cars in the world.

Many would argue it is working.

The best or nothing at all is not an unrealistic objective. It is not an elite view, reserved only for those who can afford ‘S-Class’ living. Rather, it is the table stakes that get us all into the game.  It is the mindset we must all bring to our chosen vocation and to our daily reason for being.  It would argue that it is not the end game, it is the beginning.

The essence of what Daimler’s inspirational challenge was – and is – lies in the results it creates:  the ever-present desire to pursue excellence.  To push yourself to be better at your game.  Hone your craft and refine the approach you take each and every day to deliver a better product to the customers you serve. It is to tease you into to thinking about the rote ways in which you approach the tasks you do and provoke you to find a more efficient, more productive, more precise way to accomplish the same task.  To inspire you to become more creative, more enthusiastic, more passionate, heck, just be MORE!

Life is meant to be lived. Work is not who we are, it is what we do.  Whether we teach children, design roads, develop computer applications, sell groceries, solve financial problems or help people find jobs, we need to approach it wholeheartedly. No one wants a cup of coffee poured by someone who wants to be out building bridges; no one wants to drive a car built by someone who would rather be off writing the great American novel.

Bring your “A” game to what you do. Even if what you are doing right now isn’t what you chose to do forever, your next step will come more quickly if your approach this step with the very best of you. If you choose not to give it your very best, move on and – for the benefit of others who need your position – give nothing at all.

Life is too precious and there are too many waiting to live it fully! For those of us who embrace the idea of Daimler’s “Das Beste oder nichts,” here’s to the outrageously wonderful life that is ours for the claiming!

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