Archive for June, 2007|Monthly archive page

You are only as strong as your opponent!

“You are only as strong as your opponent”Choose a strong opponent and your body and mind stretch themselves to match the wits with your opponent. Try competing with minnows and the bar is lowered and mind assumes success is just to beat that bar. It is this quote manifested in multiple forms like “Raising the bar” that motivates a lot of people and corporates to do better in varied fields. Even parents teach +2 kids, Aim for IIT you will atleast make it to a good REC 🙂

A slightly different manifestation of this is “You are as big as the one who you compete with”. A statement wonderfully utilized in Bollywood by Mr.Shahrukh Khan for his brand makeover. SRK (Who incidentally I hate as an actor!) is the best when it comes to building a brand and managing career and image like a business. (It IS a business!) SRK, while individually, has always been a big star on Bollywood bourses. However, an interesting manouver, made him much bigger than what he is. It is when he started comparing himself with Mr. Bacchan. What a lovely strategy! Big B has always been THE MAN on bollywood avenues. Suddenly a 40 year old SRK has started competing and comparing himself with Mr. B. Media talked about it – Rivals in the big game, vieled attacks and counter attacks on the PR scene. Unfortunately, Mr. B fell for it. He started commenting on SRK and pulled himself down. Now Mr B and SRK are on similar platforms when they get compared. Awesome! I think that is a lesson for everyone to take. As mentioned in Sun Tzu’s Art of War – SRK won before the war started.

That reminds me of a totally different context where China competes with USA. China is NOWHERE close to US’s military might. US is a giant when it comes to military technology and China a new comer. It was not till recently that China could successfully use a lot of missile technologies that US developed and deployed in late ’80s. But interestingly, China is the only country whose nuclear weapons target the United States! China does not compare or compete with India or neighbouring countries like Korea/Taiwan. In the world press, they are a country challenging United States, none lesser. That makes China much bigger than what it really is. (Ofcourse, the way China is using Art of War Tactics, tactic to tactic, requires a dedicated discussion – their multi-pronged attack – economic, political, information warfare on US.) So another lesson from the world of politics – Compete with some bigger/better and people will start perceiving that you too are as good.

Now coming into a more common everyday instances, where people compete or compare themselves with someone bigger better. I had an old boss who had this fetish of comparing himself with the Management Guru CK Prahlad. You know, I had a dot com venture in 2000 that went dud but even CK Prahlad had a venture that went dud. Ya, that roughly puts both these guys in the same league. My foot! While I am strong believer in the statement – ‘What one man can do, the other can do’, I see a problem when these kinda instances happen or an amateur tennis player next door compares himself with Roger Federer 🙂 Ofcourse, I am NOT DENYING that you CAN be him but it takes a LONG and DEDICATED effort before you can actually be him. There was a long road they traversed before they reached there and for one standing at the beginning of a road, it is only a theoretical possibility until you reach the end. And by definition, theoretical possibilities are axiomatic, tautological statements holding no value except for self-titillation.

And similarly another example from blogosphere, in discussions of spirituality, people make statements like “Vivekananda or Jiddu or UG were also human beings and so am I.” So I am as good or as bad as them or they were no better than me. Without a sufficient reading, understanding or analysis, when someone makes a comment like that – I see it as an ‘effort’ to improve their image to be perceived as a better or more evolved soul eliciting responses like – “They like you are dis-illusioned with anything accepted by anyone…you would find a lot of similarities in the way you think and they do..:-)” And that was precisely what the statement was intended to achieve and it did. It is sometimes really annoying that people make statements or get compared/compare themselves to UG – without realizing that before rejecting what was accepted, UG learnt what was accepted for twelve long years. He understood, analyzed and then out of his own intution, analysis and intellect – Rejected – as any free-willed human being can.

One statement in the title and its many manifestations – people use it in clever ways either to really succeed or self-gratify, but the truth lives on.