Friday, August 8, 2008

Being Competitive

It is often believed that "only the strong survives" and that the remainder is better than the lost or lessened. It is also often believed that the one who wins is the greater and the one who has the lion's share is indeed the lion. But there is "silent evidence" to reflect on. Consider these words from The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

"It is easy to avoid looking at the cemetery while concocting historical theories. But this is not just a problem with history, It is a problem with the way we construct samples and gather evidence is every domain. We shall call this distortion a bias, i.e., the difference between what you see and what is a scale that unfailingly shows you a few pounds heavier or lighter than your true weight or a video camera that adds a few sizes to your waistline...Silent evidence is what events use to conceal their own randomness, particularly the Black Swan type of randomness...The neglect of silent evidence is endemic to the way we study comparative talent, particularly in activities that are plagued with winner-take-all attributes. We may enjoy what we see, but there is no point reading too much into success stories because we do not see the full picture."

This excerpt fleshes out beautifully the necessity for competition, yet the seemingly futility or elusiveness of it all, being amidst the fray and seeking to rising above it. (But where is it? Where is the level or demarcation, considering the cemetery? This is an obvious humbling factor.) When randomness is spoken of here it has a quality of presence yet it remains without form; it appears nebulous, though it is evident. It is the search of that which is beyond my present ability (In Search of Excellence a la Tom Peters), having arrived through various difficulties and competititions, failures and successes, that I recognize me in what I see or the thought of the cemetery (the silent evidence) that evades me.

Do both existentially draw me?

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