Post by The Husband
There are an incredible number of books that encourage us to be amazing, incredible, supra-normal, to be in the top 1%, to be the richest, smartest, best looking and strongest people in the world.
Unfortunately for most of us, by definition, we will never be the the best. Frankly, the large majority of us will not be best at anything, ever.
Just a few weeks ago, I was happily doing push-ups. I’m not naturally particularly strong or athletic, but I did pride myself in being able to do push-ups. As a teenager, I was terrible at running, and pretty much anything that required physical endurance, but I could do push-ups. I boasted to my daughter – “I can do 60 push-ups in a row” (I.e., isn’t dad awesome?). As we had been talking a lot about the Guinness book of records, I thought “I wonder how many push-ups have been done in a row?”. I figured that since I could do 60, the world record is probably about 200 maybe 250.
I quickly googled on my iPhone and to my complete surprise and dismay, the world record was somewhere around the 10,000 mark. Even my eight-year old daughter laughed at me. Thankfully, there was another record I could throw back at her, ie. the world record for push-ups for an eight year old was about 4000. I couldn’t even imagine doing 1000 push-ups in a week. I would find it hard enough to concentrate long enough to count to 10000, let alone do 10,000 pushups in a row!
This isn’t the only area in which I am somewhat average. In fact most of us are average, or at least around average or below average for most things. This is the uncomfortable truth. There can only be one person at the top.
Sure, I can hear the usual argument “if there’s gonna be some guy at the top it might as well be me”. That’s the sort of thing that works for people like Michael Jordan and perhaps Bill Gates. But it generally doesn’t work out that way for people like you and me for most things. In fact, just ask the second most valuable players in the NBA in the last few years. The problem is you don’t even know who they are (that’s how bad it is to not be the MOST valuable).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t all strive for excellence. I’m just challenging the idea that we should all somehow be able to be the best in everything. It is complete nonsense and all of us know it deep down, we just don’t want to accept it. I mean just think about it. If everyone in the world could do 10,000 push-ups, then it would be absolutely average to be able to do 10,000 push-ups.
So really this whole thing about being the best, is all relative. I can beat most (but perhaps not all) three-year-olds in 100 meter race. That would make me the best in that particular race.
I also think that the idea of being ridiculously rich and not having to work ever again is really silly. Firstly, it is highly unlikely that you can achieve it. I suspect that half of the rich people who write the books are rich partly because they write books. Secondly, I think this sort of thinking undermines the value of a good hard day’s work. I’m not saying that you should be happy to work low-end dead-end job and never climb the ladder of success, I’m just saying that to think that you can be a multimillionaire by the age of 30 for most people is a foolish idea.
Striving for this so-called success creates a certain discontentment in people.
Perhaps it’s something to aim for to create a feeling of purpose…However I would argue that our purpose must be found in God and found in what we’re doing right now. We should also be rather contented in where we are right now, how much we have right now and what our abilities are right now. I think the Bible is pretty clear that we are, simply — to be contented.