Monday, October 16, 2006

Lonely at the summit..

How does it feel like when you are the best in the business? When no one can do it better than you? When the entire world looks up to you in awe??
Lonely.. Very lonely..

The more mediocre you are, the more company you have. There are loads of people with similar ability around you, with whom you can discuss your thoughts freely. But as you get better and better, and you move towards a higher plane of proficiency, you slowly begin to leave others behind. Finally, when to reach the pinnacle of excellence, you find that there are very few, if any, who can match you. For example, a group of students who score average marks in class can have a frank conversation about how they are preparing for the exams, what chapters they are studying and what not. But the topper in class cannot participate in the discussion with this group at the same level. While the group of average students might only have studied 70% of the course for the exam, the topper would have studied 100%. Things that seem difficult to the average students would seem very easy to the topper. But the topper cannot express his honest opinion to them. He cannot say that he has studied everything and it all seems very easy to him, and he cannot understand why others cannot do the same. He needs to be mindful that his honest opinions might hurt others.

Ordinary people often feel, it must be great to be the best. It must be great to be Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan, Tiger Woods. But they do not realize being the best has it’s own baggage. As the old cliche from one of the Spiderman movies goes, "With great power, comes great responsibility". With so many people looking up to you, you need to be the model of good behavior; and at times go out of the way to be cordial and well mannered even to the extent that you are suppressing our inner feelings. Sachin Tendulkar might hate playing Ranji Trophy, as the quality of opposition is way below his standards. But he cannot say this publicly. Amitabh Bachchan may not like acting frivolous new comers, but he cannot express this to anyone. Otherwise he would be labeled as arrogant, just for expressing what he genuinely feels inside. Men of excellence have to constantly suppress their inner feelings in order to be politically correct. They would perhaps give anything to be in the company of another person who has achieved the same level of excellence, or that they can have an honest discussion with him / her. For example, Sachin Tendulkar would cherish the opportunity he had to meet Don Bradman on his 90th birthday for the rest of his life. Both if them perhaps discussed things about batting that they could not discuss with anyone else, as not many would be able to to grasp the intricacies they can. Both of them would have been able to express things to each other that they would not be able to otherwise. For example, Sachin may say that most other batsmen in the world are not able to work out bowlers like he does. If Sachin said this to anyone else, he would be termed as arrogant. But to another great like the Don, his statement would make perfect sense.

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