The place overflowed with customers so I made to leave but Thor motioned for me to wait and pointed towards the corner table. The customer there was just leaving as she gathered up her books. As soon as she was out the door, Thor went to clean up and prepare the table for me. And before I could speak, Thor said
“A hot cup of cappuccino and a slice of apple pie, right?”
I grinned with amusement quite pleased that he hadn’t forgotten because I really hadn’t been here for some months. I then leaned back comfortably in my seat and while waiting for my famous duo I looked around to see if I might see a friend in the crowd. It’s not impossible to stumble among friends at the mall or coffee shop. -happened several times to me. A small group of corporate men in boring ties occupied a table to my right. Four young attractive ladies filled up the table to my left. And facing me were two men in tennis garb with their rackets lying on the floor under the table beside their Adidas sports bags. Without meaning to, I gathered snippets of conversation which trailed to my table and reached my innocent ears. :-)
“He’s president of the company at 37! I’m going to rake in promotions and get there at 30, you’ll see. I’ll build my own connections now and fast to beat him at his game.”
“Oh but she’s smart, well-dressed, and sexy. Mark is going to fall for her, that’s for sure. But she’s going to be yesterday’s fashion when she sees me!”
“The neighbor next door has his new plasma TV and DVD player, Imagine?!! I’ll put in long hours at the office, earn a fat bonus and will get a huge entertainment system sooner than you think.”
Wow! Couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It’s all about this mad-mad race against someone or something. But noting down their serious faces and the tenor of their conversation, I began to wonder -- Now why should the good fortune or success of another set the mood and mode of a person’s intent or desires? Why must the lifestyle of a neighbor down the street be the gauge for one’s effort in his own? Can a person be truly happy with choices which only echo another’s? Is there a guaranty of lasting happiness done in this manner? Nobody knows the real issue behind these supposedly ‘success’ stories. They may look successful on the outside but utterly miserable within. There always is a behind-the-scenes tale lurking behind every occurrence. (The grapevine is not a reliable source and should not even be considered a source.) There’s a trap in this kind of mind set – quite an unhealthy obsession -- a vicious cycle fed by change every time a person finds that someone or something else is much better than the last one.
Let’s take another perspective, a positive one.
It's possible that the persons referred to by the groups above may possibly have deserved to be what they have become and what they have acquired. Perhaps they earned it by sheer hard work, brilliant planning, diligence, and self-improvement. The employee can’t get those proper connections for himself if he hadn’t been quite adept at networking and good pr. The young company president can’t get to be in the top echelon of the company if he didn’t do his homework well. The girl won’t be as attractive as she is now if she allowed herself to go sloppy, shoddy, and stagnant. That neighbor won’t get to acquire some luxury or convenience if he hadn’t planned his finances or resources well, saved for a purpose, and stayed with it. Their lives turned out exactly how they had carved or planned it by turning themselves into better persons. This was the requirement to qualify for a better state of life.
So what is this telling us? It’s simply this - to race the good fight, one must race not against others but against ‘self’. Strive to become better than your old self – not better than the guy next door (or in the next cubicle) who apparently is doing things his way. He’s actually running his own race. So shouldn’t you be doing yours your way too? Qualify and fight on your own merits and aim to be the best with it.
You are your own benchmark, standard, yardstick, motive, incentive, stimulus, purpose, point of reference. Everything that you want to achieve or hope to become one day begins with you, continues with you, and finishes with you. It’s not some John Doe or Jane Doe who will provide these for you or set the pace at which you should run the race. This is YOUR race, not theirs. YOU are in it, not them. And YOU are your own reason for running it.
There’s more to be said about this but I think you just pretty well understand the crux of this piece. . . .
If you must compete -- compete with yourself!
posted on Wednesday, August 01, 2007 8:14 PM