Would you rather be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond? Both have their advantages and can teach us something about ourselves. Being in comfort zones should not determine which we choose.

Chris Abraham, the President and COO of Abraham Harrison Public Relations, asks whether you’d rather be the smartest person at your local college or the dumbest person at MIT. There are great leadership lessons to learn from both Big Fish and Small Fish… It’s the cycle of viewpoint that increases our development. He says that if you want to be successful, then you need to aim for perfection. While it is true that the Big Pond can offer a lot of opportunities, there is also the risk of getting left behind. So, if you’re not ready to handle the challenges ahead, it might be best to stay out of the kitchen altogether.

If you want to succeed in the big pond, then differentiation is key. Just ask Blake Hall, CEO of Troop ID. He decided to move his company to Washington D.C so that he could stand out from the competition. Essentially, he made his pond smaller. Jessica Herrin did something similar with her soon-to-be billion-dollar business Stella & Dot. She found a niche in the jewelry and personal sales market (big pond) and made it her own (pond gets smaller). In other words, she became the big fish.

Even if you’re only a small fish in a big pond, that doesn’t mean you can’t make waves. Frances Hesselbein was the CEO of the Girl Scouts, and she not only kept the organization running smoothly, but she actually made significant changes to it and advocated for leadership development among all girls. The Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute is a Small Fish in the Big Pond of leadership training, created by the eponymous leader after her retirement. She was previously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her distinguished work.

Being the small fish has its perks–you get to be a freshman, work on building your career and leadership skills at your own pace, have access to mentors and role models, and learn from those who are in different departments. No one expects you to know or do everything here because you’re still new!On the contrary, being the “big fish” is fun as well. I get to set standards and do the mentoring; if our strategy succeeds or fails, it falls on me. That pressure drives me to be better every day. When you’re self-taught, you have to find ways to learn that are much different from formal education. However, both experiences will teach you something valuable eventually.

No matter your size, always swim with a purpose.

How have you been a Big Fish? A Small Fish? Tell us in the comments!

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