The 100 meter race and the narcissistic society

While I studied in school, and this was nearly 3 decades ago, we used to have sports events. One of the sport, I was forced to participate in was a 100 meter race. This was something I hated because I simply couldn’t run fast as others. It did not come as a surprise then that I always finished last or at best second last.

As is the tradition in most societies, the winner gets a lot of respect, awards, friends and the loser gets ridiculed. I was too young then to understand that this was just a race and not to be taken personally.

Majority of my friends would hang around the winner of the race or those who ranked well academically.

Few questions I had on my mind then and I was afraid to ask were :

First – What was the purpose of that race ? Is it just to know who runs better than the other in the group. As far as I knew, nobody had any intention to represent their country in sports in major events like Olympics.

Second – What was the purpose of ranking students based on their scores for academic subjects  ? Isn’t the purpose of school to learn various subjects and not to feel inferior and be compared to other students.

I did not realize then that this concept of ranking is something that I have to live with for the lifetime, wherever I go.

I started my corporate career in 1993. The workplace environment was very much similar to school.

A very popular Information Technology company that had a global presence I worked for, very early in my career, had this concept of ranking employees. They categorized employees as top, average and poor performers. Nothing can be more demoralizing than ranking employees.

What resulted in employees holding back knowledge from co-workers, back-stabbing, brown nosing, bullying just to get to the top performers list.

A more matured approach would be to get every employee to help each other succeed to achieve a common goal. This ensures harmony and a productive workplace.

The worst recession of our lifetime that we witnessed few years ago witnessed the worst form of incivility and bullying in workplaces – for their own survival. Unfortunately, this survival is only short-term as karma catches upon them.

The persistent desire to stay ahead of others and win all the time has meant that people start believing that the sun revolves around them.

In this constant attempt to win all the time, people sacrifice their health, quality time with family and to care about others who need their attention.

The social media revolution has only given evidence that people now only care about how many followers they have to prove their self-worth and not how they have contributed to the welfare of society.

I must admit that I was guilty on many occasions too. To stay in the race, I had sacrificed quality time with my family.

I achieved a lot of success in my corporate career, however when my mother suffered from paralysis and passed away 2 months later, I was busy working my tails off for people whose priority in life was promotion and who had many alternatives to replace me if I did not deliver their project.

Few years later, during the recession, I gave a long thought – how long will I continue in this race ?

I quit the race to re-discover myself. I found it tough but I am peace at now.

In my entrepreneurial pursuit, I discovered that helping other succeed is the key to success and happiness.

Perhaps, it is karma.

Back to the 100 meter race, I wish we were taught in school that running is good, only from our health point of view and not just to win a race.















9 thoughts on “The 100 meter race and the narcissistic society

  1. WOW! As you put it well the problem of Competition at work. Well-structured, well explained. based on your own experience and true. Here in Brazil we are leaving this kind of competitive relationship back. Does not work, as you well say. Congratulations. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is a good post. I am sometimes guilty of being overly competitive, and lately it has been affecting my mood. I find life to be much more pleasant when I partake in activities simply for enjoyment, rather than being concerned about how I compare to others.

    Liked by 1 person

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