Friday, May 24, 2013

Is striving to be a winner worth it?

While travelling to Kasara to meet my lovely wife and strike up a deal to co-author a couple of books on Yoga, I was listening to a podcast from Freakonomics Co-author Steve Dubner on a very interesting topic.

Before I get into the topic, I want to tell you how interested I was in it; interested enough to re-focus my tired mind which was sleep deprived, and was dreading the two hour long, supposedly pleasant journey.

Most Podcasts/Audiobooks are informative, funny or knowledgeable. The Freakonomics team is renowned for researching absolutely delightful topics over which a layman’s knowhow is at best obscure.

They've changed my misplaced perception of a Researcher being someone who comes up with something un-interestingly new to someone who gathers obvious and large amounts of data, filters it into meaning and presents it with a goal in mind; something common folk eschew.

Take this for a bite:

In this particular podcast, Team F (Freakonomics is way too long!) found out a remarkable difference in the afterlife of baseball hall of fame nominees and hall of fame winners. This stood true for Nobel prize nominees and winners, as with Academy Award nominees and winners too.
Baseball winners grinning like Cheshire cats!

The difference?

The winners tend to outlive the nominees! Important factors like money were taken into consideration, and no, it wasn’t as important as recognition when it came to those people. I mean, most of these people are financially successful in their own right, some selling energy drinks, to finding God Particles to making us cry and go gaga. But the nominees, tended to die younger. Interesting.

Come to think of it, any pseudo-intellectual worth their salt would contend that yes, this is old wine in a new bottle (Ah, Wine!). Everyone knows that being successful, being a winner tends to boost your morale, and this positive reinforcement helps in the longevity. However, when you have facts and figures to prove it all, it puts things into a completely tangible and different perspective, don’t it?!

Is winning that important to us? Let’s face it, some people, take me for instance, resign to the fact that there are certain things I may never be able to achieve; beating Kobe Bryant in one on one basketball for instance. But most successful athletes, scientists and actors are dreamers, and they dream big.

 Their ambitions leads to the desire of acclaim and recognition, and when they don’t win one, well, they lose a few years. The winners may win it one year, but may lose again, thus getting them back to square one. How does one then go about life? Does one not be ambitious? Industrious? Does one not aim for success? 

Yep, he's lost all right..

Here’s my take:

There is an old saying in Hindu scriptures which I am roughly translating (or hoping to!) in English. We’ve always been told to work, do our duty and strive to fulfill our destiny without hankering for the pleasures, fame and recognition that success brings with it as they will follow suit.

Baseballers striving to be better, scientists working harder to rid earth of Cancer and actors learning to Emote better (or emote at all, in some cases) without worrying about the consequences of their enterprise are bound to live longer, with less ‘baggage’ as we call it. They should honestly BE honoured to be nominated, and acknowledge that only a handful of people do get nominated, and that’s something else!

 There are many situations and conditions beyond your control when it comes to recognition from awards. Some are rigged, some nonsensical, and some depend on plain, dumb luck. I’d like to worry about things in my control and leave the rest for the universe to work it’s mystery on.

Or, I’d join Indian cinema. In lieu of their affection with the actors, and with the concern of their longevity in mind, our people have come up with multiple award shows which honour and reward all of them. Each year.
Mr. Khan getting ANOTHER award. 

For the rest of us, I’d suggest focusing on excellence and improvement, and leaving it at that! That's what ought to make striving to be a winner worth it. What say?

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