I have found that there is only one fool-proof, can’t-miss answer to situations where there is someone who thinks they are better than you. It’s not a written or an oral response. It’s not a comeback or a quip. It’s not a perfect phrase you need to write down or memorize.
When someone says they’re better than you, the best answer is to show them, and all other observers, that they are not. Definitively.
Even if it takes time. Especially if it takes time.
Rather than respond, go back to the lab. Make progress, a little bit every day. Chip away. Do your work in the background, off to the side, in the dark where no one else can see how slow and incremental that progress is.
Build things, arrange things, put things together, make things happen, set things up, acquire resources and allies. Long-term, strategic progress. Dig a moat around what you’re doing so it can’t be repeated. And when you know you have a lead, that’s when you really start pushing.
Outlast the sonofabitch. Do the things they won’t. For a length of time that they wouldn’t.
And when the time is right…reveal!
Where is your critic now? Where are you? Can you even see them in the rear view mirror or are you now playing a different game, on a different level altogether? Remind me again, what on earth led you to believe that you were in any way better than I am? You’re nothing.
Your critic is shocked. Horrified.
They will wonder how you did it. How you pulled it off.
You don’t have to say out loud that it’s because you’re better. They will already know.