The world’s second tallest building is called Taipei 101. The second heaviest gold bar in the world is stored in Jinguashi. The tunnel through Hsuehshan is the second longest in Asia. Each of these second bests was a first in its time.
What is noteworthy is not that these once were the tallest, heaviest, and longest of their kind. No, what is noteworthy is that they are all located in Taiwan. This little island, and its even littler outlying islands, occupies an area of only 13,900 square miles. My own state, Colorado, occupies 104,091 square miles, roughly seven times Taiwan’s size. Colorado isn’t threatened by surrounding states, yet Taiwan faces frequent intimidation from mainland China. Perhaps the threat of invasion explains why Taiwan has achieved so much. Perhaps the explanation lies elsewhere. Regardless, Taiwan’s example is something to strive for.