What puzzles me the most about a lot of people, is the lack of appreciation for work others do. And complaining about everyone and everything nonstop on social networks. This article is a complaint by itself, so this is some kind of a recursive problem, but that’s not the point. I think seeing greatness in others is what makes one able to achieve greatness himself and if you can only see bad, you are meant to become a snob one day. Pretty sure that’s not a carrier path you want to take.
I’m an avid Formula 1 fan, following all the news whole year. In 2010, Michael Schumacher came back to race after retiring in 2007. I’m sure most of the first world population know who he is - a guy who won 7 world championship titles, dominating with Ferrari for most of that. I would argue that Ayrton Senna was the best driver of all time, but nonetheless Schumi managed to reach the top so many times that it puts him among the best of all time. So when he came back… everyone was discussing how terrible he is.
Because, apparently, at the time he was driving it was very easy to win. Practically rendering his achievements to a status of “meh”. From driving perspective, if you think driving a Formula 1 car (or any competitive car to be honest) is easy, well, you are very very much misled. You can get a feel of that by watching this attempt by R. Hammond from Top Gear UK. All the guys on the track are at the top of their game and the only reason why some win or not is never because they suck. They win because the team does a great job at building a reliable and quick car, strategy works as it should, no big accidents happen, weather conditions follow the plans, etc.
Now I’m not a Schumi fan, even though I have supported Ferrari for as long as I remember watching the race, but I find this completely ridiculous. I don’t think any of the above matter, and like some extremely rude moves he made, because at the end of the day, he was the one to win it all. And thus I respect him, because he figured out what he needed to do be where he wanted to be. And you can claim anything you want, nothing is going to make his achievements smaller. And claiming he got it all easy is just ignorant.
But people still do. It’s so easy nowadays to call everything meh, shit or sucks-worthy, somehow claiming ones superiority in know everything about everything. Like all of the UX experts on Twitter making fun of everyones’ design, but for some reason never actually doing anything themselves. Or making fun of Facebook stock, without even understanding the basics of stock trading and the reasons its stock changed how it did - it’s much more easier just to claim that Facebook will fail as a public company, a completely subjective prediction.
Having thought about this for a while, I’m starting to realize that by making yourself believe others are bad, one tries to make himself superior. I think it’s a very sound choice, most people spend their lives trying to prove who they are, so this works great for them. At the same time though, this is extremely delusional. If there is no one or nothing which makes you excited, I can’t see how one could be successful, because then you don’t really get what it takes, you still have this unicorn-inspired view that for example being tall makes you great at basketball.
For the same reason as so many clever engineers fail to be successful, even with their extraordinary ability, and so many great startups collapse, even though it was definitely the next Facebook, so many people fail because they have the wrong idea about what it takes. I can’t tell you what, I don’t know, but I know it’s very complicated and consists of a lot of small factors. But if you look at Schumi and think he got lucky, I think most likely if you were to do racing you wouldn’t win. Or if you were to do business you would go bankrupt. The way these people did things worked (at that time period) and they were the right things to do, don’t argue with that.
Another example I like to use when arguing about this is body building. 90% percent of people I met believe that you wake up one day, take some steroids and voilà - you have a ripped body. If only this was true. But it isn’t. It takes endless days, weeks and months, turning into years eventually, to be at the level of stars like A. Schwarzenegger. By claiming otherwise one creates this false notion that the only step separating one from looking great is the fact that haven’t done that yet, not because they are lazy and unmotivated.
However, it usually takes just a little bit to get something going, especially if you know what you are doing. That little bit, which seems to be recurring in my posts, is getting up and actually doing something. I wish I was a modern art painter, painting futuristic paintings and charging $100’000 to sell one. Actually I have no interest to be one at all, but I would like to have this opportunity just to have a stage to laugh at everyone who would claim that I was overcharging for black lines on empty white prints.
The thing is, most of great things are done by people who… did them. Rather than claiming how they could do it so much more better than anyone else, they did it the way they wanted it to be done or as good as their skills allowed. Sometimes those things turned into great products, ideas or events. But it’s wrong to assume that just it was easy to do anything, because nothing is every easy. It takes so much work, determination and ideas to get even the simple things going. It’s only when you do nothing, things from the outside look so simple to make.
It makes me very happy to watch Steve Job’s talks and almost cry watching Randy Pausch deliver his last lecture. Not because I’m a fan of what they do, but because I appreciate their effort to do things. I see the things they did, I see how they did them, and it inspires me. Once I realized that, I became aware of how many great people there are doing great things every day. So please stop your endless whining about everyone and everything you don’t agree or like, implying that they are riding the easy train. How about you actually do something yourself?
*all illustrations done by Frits from hikingartist.com