You can argue for both sides and there will be no concrete conclusion even after all the dust settled from the battle of these two sides.
In his “David vs Goliath” book, Malcolm Gladwell argues that we’d better off with choosing to be in the small pond. My simple take from his argument, it only creates undue stress to be competing in the vast ocean. Even if you are actually a top performer.
Personally, I can attest to this idea of choosing to be in the small pond.
This inclination comes from a long experience: more than a decade of working experience (and also from more than a decade of academic experience).
And yes, I have been in both ‘habitat’ — small pond and big ocean. A period of being in the small pond during my formative years, a long period of being in the big ocean during my ‘rebellious’ teenage years to my early years of working in the corporate world; and recently I have been settling in a rather relatively small (to medium) working environment.
Your viewpoint of the world is shaped through your experience as well as through the input from others. These significant others and most influential thoughts leaders also play a great role in adding the ‘color‘ into your perspectives.
Getting back to the idea of choosing between being in the small pond or in a big ocean, I would definitely say that there is no right or wrong answer. You still need to be decisive when this ‘conundrum’ comes to you. Calculate the potential upside (and the risks too). And go for it. Have a concrete plan to ride in this interesting journey. You will never know your limit until you try it — and even the limitation can be enhanced.
Am I in a small pond or a big ocean right now? Neither.
It’s a ‘rapid’ leading to the vast ocean (again)…