Tuesday, March 28, 2006

(Not) Being The Best

I was reading an interview of a famous personality the other day. This person (lets call him the No.1 Dude) is truly on top in his field, and has earned this coveted position with absolute hard work, sheer passion and single-minded quest to be on top. I dont remember the exact quotes, but it was something like this:

"I always wanted to be the best in my field. Since very beginning, my only aim was to reach the no. 1 spot. I worked hard, practiced a lot, and with sheer determination, passion and practice; I am glad to be at the position I am today...

... I've made lots of sacrifices in my personal life, I have missed many other things that other get to do and enjoy... all these years my only aim of life was to see this day. However, I am a satisfied and happy man today"


Being the best in the field, reaching this top spot; and yet being happy and satisfied ??. Really ??


This interview got me thinking:

I am not sure if being the best is the best thing to happen; rather aiming to be the best is the best thing to do. Take the case of this No. 1 Dude. He must have missed so many things in his life, just for his quest of being the best. He must have sacrificed so many other opportunities of enjoying his life. He must have made so many compromises along the road. And since he has achieved what he aimed for, I am sure he must be unsure of his future.

Is it all worth the few moments (may be days, or years) of being on top?

The only thing that is certain after reaching the top spot is failure. Absolute failure. No matter now hard you try, one day you have to relinquish the top spot. after that, its all downward path. Being on the top spot comes with extreme pressure to perform, the fear of failure, and even more sacrifices. Then whats the point in dreaming about being the best?. And all the happiness and pleasure that this No.1 dude claims to have got, is it really the true happiness, or is it just a state of hallucination?

OK, One may argue that the whole process is worth the happiness and ecstasy one gets after reaching the pinnacle. Point noted. But what about all the sacrifices one has to make?.. What about all those missed opportunities, and missing all the pleasure a common man gets from just being a normal man?.

Is being single mindedly passionate (and in the process forgetting about other things in life) the right thing to do?. Many of us tend to do that.

I am not quite sure about it.

In many ways, I am an aesthete person, and believe in living an aesthetic life (except in case of love, commitment, and friendship. I am very much an ethical person in these things). Kierkegaard defines the aesthetic stage as the stage in which man acts in such a way that will bring pleasure or happiness to himself - that is his main motivation and concern. I like being in that stage. I like to live every moment of life, experience new horizons, and enjoy small things along the way. I play this game of life for the sake of enjoyment and experience, and not to win. I believe that life is too short to aim for one particular goal in life sacrificing others. The whole idea of being the No. 1 does not quite excite me.

Does it mean that I lack skills or I dont have the desire to achieve something?... Not at all !!

I very much enjoy being at No. 2. Its my favorite position: the position which shows the promise and capability of being the best, yet not striving for it. There is no pressure, no sacrifices. Nor does it have any compromises, yet it is full of promise and potential. I just like to hang-in there. I probably dont want to be the richest in the world, or the most successful, but I want to be happy and satisfied.

When I am on the death-bed, I dont want to get a feeling that I missed living (and experiencing) something in this process called life. I would hate to have that feeling. My No.2 position lets me enjoy my life the way I want, and also puts me in a position where I am comfortable and successful. For me, its a win-win situation.

May be that's just me, the way I am !


Linda said...

Number two can be pretty hard to keep too because you have all these 3's, 4's and 5's on your tail.

Anyhow everyone is always going to make sacrifices, no matter what number on the ladder they are. Its all about the satisfaction of their choices afterwards. It's like the concept of opportunity cost, or pay-off. I choose to go shopping rather than go to class because I feel going shopping on the Biggest Sale Day of the Year is worth a lot more to me than sleeping in class. So, if the number one guy *didn't* try to be his dream, he'd look back at his life and think, "I took so many routes and did so many random things in my life... I COULD HAVE been number one, I have the ABILITY to be number one, but instead I was messing around. Now its too late..."

To him, being number one weighed alot more than other things. But to you and other people, maybe being number one isn't a big deal at all. It's all about whether or not we feel good about our choices afterwards.

No Vivek, I am not a big crazy weirdo :p

Anonymous said...

Most times I get confused after reading your blog. "Whats the big deal?" - I tend to think more often than not. Dont mind the criticism, but I feel you have the natural ability to overcomplicate simple things in life.

In this case, I think its a simple matter of choice - forsaking the low priority items on ur wishlist for the high priority ones.

Would you call it sacrifice if you are doing it all for yourself?Choosing either way, you do what you feel is more important at the moment and live with the consequences.

And BTW, are you taling about relative BEST or absolute BEST ? I am a believer of "accounting" ones life on a daily basis. If what you achieved is equivalent or more than what you paid for, ur day was a success. If not, dont repeat the same choices the next day !

Vivek said...

I don't mind criticism at all. So long as its healthy criticism, is issue based and doesn't get too personal; I am OK with it. After all every individual has a different perception and opinion about every issue; so its natural that there is a difference in opinion.

Regarding over-complicating the things: I would rather call it "situational analysis" than making things complicated. If you analyze different situations, and things happening around you; the analysis is bound to be thought provocative, open ended, and towards a complex side. I don't think one can have uncomplicated brainstorming.

Now regarding my life: I don't know who you are, or if you know me personally. But if you do know me, you probably know that I live a very simple and uncomplicated life. Whatever I express in my blogs doesn't necessarily always reflect my own personality. I sometimes just "think" about certain things in a very neutral perspective; and I put my views in my blogs. I find is interesting to give a neutral thought about these things. Sometimes, its a nice relaxation.

I have met many people, who, after reading my blogs, have told me that they also had similar thoughts, and had similar feelings and views about certain things; but could never express them. So there are people who think deeply about certain things. I don't think it makes them complicated; one should rather admire their mental depth, maturity, and quest for neutral analysis. I dont think merely thinking about such things makes a person complicated. If at all, it would make him more mature, and knowledgeable.

If thinking about complicated things would make a person like that, then people like political analysts, diplomatic strategists or scientists would have gone crazy. I don't think that's the case.

As you said, its not really a big deal at all.

glassvisage said...

Good thoughts... just know that everyone has their place, and if it feels wrong, then maybe you should try working for the top (or maybe down!).