Wednesday, May 4, 2016

you don't want to know

Here's a simple question you will surely hate answering.

If you are doing something in a group or social or non-solo setting, and someone else then does that something with more facility, quickness, grace, deftness, depth and breadth of skill or knowledge

was that person trying to "beat" you?

or was that person simply doing what he/she could?

If someone knows more than you about a subject, is she trying to put you down when she talks about that subject?

If someone's better than you at a sport, or an aspect of that sport, is he trying to make you feel small when playing that sport in your presence?

If someone's better than you at using a tool or device, is that person trying to belittle you when using that tool or device with you as witness?


From the time I was small, people who were better than I am/was at something were not ever experienced negatively.  If I met a person who could do something better than I could, I wasn't embarrassed or emasculated or existentially eviscerated.  If someone beat me in a running race, I didn't fall to the ground and cry in a tantrum or run to hide behind a building or rock while contemplating suicide.

If someone got a higher grade on a test or quiz or paper in a subject I enjoyed and either consciously or subconsciously was driven to master, at some level, I didn't feel like I should commit seppuku. 

Why would I?

I didn't imagine myself the greatest in the universe at anything, let alone everything.


Here, some people may say this:

"Chet, you have the attitude of one who has won, placed first, got the only A+ or 100, etc., at some point.  What about people who never do better than mid-pack, no matter what they do?"

To which I must reply:

I can't ever recall getting the only A+ or 100 in a scholastic matter, nor the "best in class" designation on a paper or report.  I did win foot races in PE class, and could swim the length of the pool faster than my friends, but I didn't compete in Track or Swimming for any team or school.

In college and law school, sometimes my test answers were used as models for classroom discussion.  These occurrences surprised me, as I've never been a 4.0 student.

I had some unexpected victories in the early days of my legal work.

I scored a few goals as a lacrosse player, and as a soccer player.  I've hit a few HRs in intramural and work-related softball, sometimes in clutch situations.  Hoovered some ground balls with a whip to 1st to shut someone down at a pivotal point while playing SS or 3B, even.

None of that was done with an eye toward making you feel inferior.  Ever.

I don't compete with you.

I compete with me.

And that's how it's always been, and how it always will be.  If you think I'm trying to make you feel small, you'd better go get some counseling.

I'm trying to make myself feel small.**   

You're not even in the picture.  Even if it's a lacrosse game and we're facing off, I'm trying to face off better than my last 25 faceoffs.  I'm not trying to beat you.  I'm improving my game.

And that's the whole picture.  There's nothing more to it.

I pursue personal excellence.

Maybe that's what makes you feel small.  Maybe you can't pursue it, and so....?


Sometimes, when competing with myself, I lose.  Big.  Sometimes I quit, and walk off the pitch.

Sometimes, when doing a solo bike ride, I start out with Objective A, but midway through my climb I change my plan to Objective A/2 or A/4.

Once upon a time I tried to be an entrepreneur despite knowing I'm not a salesman or marketer or psy-op-user.  The mid-path realization that sales/marketing were essential made the entire project, a full 3 years of my life, become a black hole.

The pursuit of excellence became the achievement of its opposite!


I do not offer this brief tale of failure as a navel-gaze, as an attempt to be a 21st Century Hipster who is neoplastic-irony embodied.

It's just an example.

You have to know when to walk off the pitch.

If you're afraid to step onto the pitch in the first place, I don't think you should be blaming those who are happily playing, accusing them of trying to make you feel small.

I think you should accept your present position but understand we all can improve, and if you want to be out there on the pitch badly enough, you'll find a way to get there.

Just don't bother me with your carping from the sidelines.  I only care to hear from those who gained the pitch and played there.

--Chet Redweld, whose path hasn't always been smooth -- if ever.


**  Though I'm not really trying for that "feel small" self-abuse endpoint, I'm really trying to see if I can be better than the last time I tried it.  If I succeed, the last attempt will be lesser by comparison.  It's unhealthy, though, to want to feel small, or to let yourself feel small.  So I don't really chase that.


Harold Caidagh said...

So, Chet, let me get this accurately.

When I sent you that complaint in GRH v UNSF, it wasn't about them, but about you and what was correctly interpreting the legal and legally-derived landscape? You were more concerned with what is, as opposed to what they wanted things to be?

Also, in athletics: in a faceoff, how can you say you're not trying to beat the other guy? You wanted to lose the faceoff?

Chet Redweld said...

The GRH lawsuit wasn't about me, but you're correct it wasn't about them. It was about the ramifications of what they were arguing should be. Who was arguing that position didn't matter at all, really, except that attacking the position includes attacking the reasons the position is advanced, and each person has his/her own peculiar rationales for action.

Hal, if you review the post I made about Roberts' decision to uphold ACA because of feelings about ACA's potential

you may get a better handle on it. Feelings, vs the utility of a construct.

In a faceoff, I beat the other guy by being quick, by using smart technique, and by having confidence that I can do it well. If my sole motive is "beat the other guy," I've fairly well missed the point of what I'm doing.

Harold Caidagh said...

So they lost because they couldn't see far down the road, despite arguing that they were trying to progress society for the benefit of all?

Chet Redweld said...

That's part of it, hypocrisy is one's undoing in many cases, and exposing it's a useful tool in the hands one who knows how to logically explain or extrapolate where things will head. But in the GRH lawsuit, the plaintiffs' failure was working that solipsist's view, which extended to a corrupt lawyer (hypocritical) and corrupt judge (hypocritical) colluding to obscure things.

These kinds of informal (and sometimes even formal) collusion aren't necessarily part of a grand scheme that was memorialized by each participant with a contract or handshake. Sometimes people think they're doing the right thing and follow their path for that reason. There's nothing wrong with this approach, it's when a person or small group believes they are the only ones with a view toward social stability or improvement, and take that further when arguing that only their view matters when considering how to improve things for all.

People disagree on things, but apparently in 2016, many imagine that everyone must agree on everything. It's like they're stuck in the mindset of a 4 or 5 year old.

Chet Redweld said...

oops...'s when a person or small group believes they are the only ones with a view toward social stability or improvement, and take that further when arguing that only their view matters when considering how to improve things for all.

ended without an ending. Mea culpa.

The end point should be: when they take that solipsist's view and foist it onto everyone, they cause problems. The solution is navigating every solispist's view, merging them into a whole. Long term social stability comes from people agreeing to follow a path, not from being clamped-down and forced to follow.

Harold Caidagh said...

So it's like this?

GOOD: Here's an idea that works for me, see if it works for you.

BAD: Here's an idea that works for me, it MUST work for you.

Is that it, Chet?

Chet Redweld said...

You'd have made a half-decent lawyer, Hal.

Chet Redweld said...

After a day's digestion, I have an additional biographic detail, mostly in response to the hypothetical:

"Chet, you have the attitude of one who has won, placed first, got the only A+ or 100, etc., at some point. What about people who never do better than mid-pack, no matter what they do?"

Mid-pack running I'm well familiar with. I could recount failing to make my jr high basketball team, or HS tennis team. I could talk about every XC MTB race I ever entered.

People like to think that the only reason one is mid-pack while another is top-flight boils down to what XX+XY the individual had as parental gene stock. To a narrow extent this is true; but assuming its primacy also displays ignorance about how different each of us really is from another, and how little commonality there is in the parental genetic soup apart from delivering homo sapiens morphology.

Hard work aiming toward excellence produced every single top-flight athlete, thinker, writer, or worker of any kind that I've ever known. Every single one.

If you want to stand on the sidelines and say, "he's good because his parents were good," that's fine by me. Please don't ask me to nod in agreement, or vocalize an identical conclusion on that front, though. I'm going to trust the views of those who have been on the pitch, rather than the legend created and offered by those on the sidelines.

Chet Redweld said...

Hey, what does Neil Donoghue say is the first, most important item here?

He might know. A little time racing DH at the highest levels may inform one on such things.

Chet Redweld said...

...but if that isn't possible, here are some other tips.

What you should hear when Neil says this?

...but if that isn't possible, here are some other tips to help you get to the second, but not first, tier.

stuckathuntermtn said...

How do I take my online confidence and turn that into on-bike confidence?

Brian Lindahl said...

Post more authoritatively when doing online reviews. Demonstrate that based upon your self-described gear preferences, nobody is as good as you, nor will anyone ever be that good.

Brian Lindahl said...

Also, it helps most to be an engineer (or at least a dependable online facsimile thereof), and to split hairs unnecessarily while using technobabble to make the hairsplitting seem relatively scientific and thus, unassailable. Bravado also is highly essential, and I must say, if you weren't born with that trait, it's going to be a hard road. Best of luck to you stuck, I know you can eventually land on that tier 4 or 5 steps below me.