Most folks would happily agree with this above statement very artistically presented by Andy Ellwood. It also makes some nerdy lonely wanna-be-team-players sound really cool to use ‘A-hole’ in the corporate boardroom or during a presentation at some lousy conference. 

I agree with the statement but I don’t think it’s demeaning at all. If there was no ‘i’, there would be no ‘A-hole’. A lot of crap would be coming through the wrong orifice, which is a very common occurrence in today's self-righteous world. It’s a tough job for that ‘i’ person who sticks out and does all the dirty job for others.

Even though there is an ‘i’, it is a lower case, and not an upper case, as we end up finding all over the place amongst folks who end up giving us sermons about ‘there is no I in Team’. The message these folks are trying to get across is that being ‘selfish’ has no room in a decent society. Is it really that bad to be selfish? Anything and everything that we do, is really selfish. It’s high time we start owning up to it. 

When we give that credit card to our significant half to spend more than the significant half of our bank balance while shopping, it is because we want to have a peaceful meal that evening. When we spend enormous amount of money on our kids education that we can barely afford, it actually is to make ourselves feel good that we did our best and also to tell folktales in social gatherings forever. The ladies who decide to give up their very promising careers for that ‘perfect’ dude in their lives, they do it primarily so they fit in really well in the conventional society. 

Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.
— This is what flight attendants remind us of again and again

 

In my opinion, there is no right or wrong. But please don’t fake it. Once that realisation comes along that being selfish is alright, it’s all good. You are then really making a difference.

It was interesting to discuss this concept in detail with Pankaj Rai during a runversation (conversation while running). Pankaj happens to be one of the top 10 analytics leaders in India and head of Dell Global Analytics. I don’t give a rats arse about what the corporate world knows him as. To me he’s a guy who loves running and for whom running goes leg in leg with conversation, calls a spade a spade, takes no bullshit and is very protective of his running mates. When the ‘shit-hits-the-fan’, he will always be my ‘go-to-man’. A guy like this would succeed in any situation and in any field. 

The central thesis is that we need to look at economic policy implications on all groups of people (other than those directly impacted by that policy) as also looking at the long term impact of that policy (not just the immediate). I had extended this economic policy principle to all of our personal life’s decisions. If we can parse each action through this lens of unintended audience we will take optimal decisions.
— Pankaj Rai's learnings from ‘Economics in one lesson’, a popular book (1946) by an Austrian Economist Henry Hazlitt

As you noticed above, I am of the opinion that unless proven otherwise, runners (sporty and physically active people) are amazing human beings. Some just love to prove me wrong by going that extra mile. 

Once I was pacing a runner for a half marathon (21 km). He was really struggling to stay on his feet at 16 km. He had to not only stop running, but even walking. Suddenly he saw his 13 year old son, and he started to run again. I then thought that it was very brave of him to be that role model to his son. But even at that time I was really concerned for him because he could have just collapsed. Thinking about it now, I think that was the worst thing to do. He could have died on that race course. He’s a top executive in one the big corporations. His death could have impacted a lot many lives and the company itself. This is coming from a guy who puts La Ultra - The High together, where year on year, we go to the extreme edge and back again. Knowing what I have presented, would you ever put your money on him?

A book everyone needs to read. 

When we were finishing our runversation, Pankaj had this to say, "My definition of ‘self’ includes all who are connected to me and I am aware of. So as my perspective expands the self also expands and hence my actions of being selfish keep changing as the definition of self is itself a variable. That ends with ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ in our scriptures, i.e. I am one with the universe."

 

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