I am Good and Aspire to be the Best
What does it take to be the best? The book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, partly answers this question. Opportunities and legacies when blended with efforts, hard work, and preparation create the best and successful people. But I think there are two more factors infrastructure and competency. I believe someone not related to me, somewhere, at sometime in the past must have done groundwork to enable me to capitalize on my competency, opportunities, and legacies.
Here onwards my discussions will be on four factors opportunities, legacies, competencies, and infrastructure. And my assumption is that any one who is aspiring to be the best is ready to work hard. We can be the best if we work hard but it is not true that if we work hard then we can become the best. The relationship is valid only one way not both ways. OK before moving onto my arguments first let me define the boundaries, meanings, and the context in which above mentioned four factors are used.
Opportunity is a vehicle leading to advancements or progress with a high degree of probability. And legacy means getting something from ancestor or predecessor without putting efforts. By competency I mean information processing power of mind. Recall we were always asked to solve lots of mathematical logic problems just to increase our information processing power. Anyway come back to our original discussion the infrastructure means underlying foundation or basic framework on which opportunities, competencies, and legacies can be capitalized. In my arguments I am only concerned with materialistic success and growth and not with spiritual growth and self-actualization. There is a clear difference between legacy and infrastructure in the way that legacies are strictly useful for some but infrastructure is useful for most of us.
Now, there are examples such as Shouldice hospital in Canada, Arvind eye care in India, and Fedex in USA. They spend hours practicing just one thing they were good at, to the extent that they became best at it. Now can we, as an individual, use the same model? But what about the factors discussed above opportunities, competencies, legacies, and infrastructure? What if we work hard but there are no opportunities. Infrastructure can be one of the thousands reasons for not having the opportunities. And what if there are opportunities and we work hard but someone who has advantages because of legacies? How to overcome the legacies? I find it very tough to overcome strategic legacy advantages no matter how hard we work. Anyway we will talk more about it below.
Let’s divide the population in three categories: good, better, and the best. It will be a pyramid like structure. Good people will be at the bottom followed by fewer better in between and very few in the category of the best. In general people transcend from good to better to the best. There are rare occasions when people are born with the exceptional talent or competencies and they just need infrastructure to become the best. They don’t need legacies to capitalize existing opportunities around them. The optimistic people at the bottom and middle of the pyramid continue their efforts and hard work in anticipation of back-to-back opportunities to eventually move on to the next category. Many of us just feel exhausted at the bottom or middle of the pyramid and give up to move on. But I always wonder about those who have infrastructure and did not give up efforts to become the best.
Let’s look at the category of just this group of people, are they competent? Yes, on the scale of competency alone I doubt there are big differences among good, better, and the best leaving aside exceptions.What happens then? Is the race to become the best any more fair? I guess no, most of us try to take advantage of strategic legacies but never accept the fact that we get advantage of strategic legacies. The other big question is how and why those at strategic legacy advantage get more opportunities than that of the other groups? Is that really true? I think it is not true that they get more opportunities but rather because of strategic legacy advantage they use the opportunity quickly and move on to the next one. While the others have to work hard first to grab the opportunity and then to perform as a result they end up utilizing their bandwidth in performing and maintaining their positions. So what should they do? Diversify and create more choices for themselves? And that requires a mindset and viewpoint change…. an MBA may do this for them.
Strange but true the value system of this world, people who have strategic legacy advantages and moved to the best category are appreciated a lot. But those who put efforts, diversify, and create more strategic choices and remain in good or better category are not valued that much? Why is that can you help me to understand?