“So you wanna be on top?”
I can’t help but flick my head back every time I think of Tyra Banks saying, “So you wanna be on top” in the opening of her famous show, “America’s Next Top Model.” As a young girl, I used to love… no idolize that show. They took these seemingly normal (and completely diverse) women from around the country and practically over night developed them into fierce yet graceful, smoking hot fashion icons. But it was not just about the clothes, the glam, the photos, or poses. In addition to being a fashion model, it was also about being a role model, a leader, and a best version of self. After all, as a “top model”, these ladies would be highly regarded in the public eye- by little girls and top designers alike across the globe.
At the end of nearly every episode, it always came down to two women. In a nail biting elimination round, Tyra Banks said some derivative of,
“Look at each other. You both have what the other needs. One of you takes flawless photos but the judges aren’t sure who she is on the inside. The other young lady has a personality that could light up a city but she just cannot seem to express it in photo. So, who stays?”
For a girly TV show, that’s a pretty profound message: value and appreciate the strengths of someone different from and opposite of you. And while those individual strengths made stand out characters on the show, let’s take it a step further: imagine what those leading ladies could have accomplished if they had the ability to join forces.
In the words of Stephen R. Covey, “strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” As individuals, we should celebrate our differences. It is those varied strengths that make for stronger competition, deeper learning, and richer experiences. And it is those unique differences that when used collectively keep ideas fresh and boundaries ever expanding. The yin meets the yang. Think about it. A mosaic is not one pretty piece… it’s hundreds of pretty pieces together that make something beautiful. A juxtaposition for contrast or an interdependency for a greater common good.
So, if you “wanna be on top,” I challenge you to look at your opposites as your opportunities. Learn from these people. Allow them to learn from you. Team with them. Grow with them. Become the best version of yourself and help them do the same. That is leader behavior and that is model behavior and it will propel you and your potential to limitless heights.