Exceed or maintain?

In just about every group, people decide in advance how they’ll show up when it comes to learning, to winning and to responding to opportunities. They’re wearing a hat with a label, and over time, it’s not hard to recognize.

This can change based on pedagogy, social conditions and the juxtaposition of status roles, but it’s really quite sticky.

A few people are not simply autodidacts, they’re actually motivated by the journey itself. They show up early, do the training, focus on prep and learn what they can, merely because they can. This is the person who trains for a marathon and then runs one, without waiting for an organized race to happen.

The second group gets a lot of attention. They are fierce competitors–not only against their personal best, but in regards to the rest of the pack. If others in their investment bank work 10 hours a day, they’ll work 10 and a half–but when they move to a new firm, the first thing they’ll figure out is what others do.

The ‘almost win’ group are very much like the winner group, except they almost always come in third or fourth. Resistance is real, and while competition motivates them, fear or other internal limits holds them back. Some people in this group manage to whine and blame the refs or self sabotage… the external symptoms may change, but the outcomes remain.

The next group doesn’t want to be left behind. They’re willing and able to expend effort, but not too much. If they’re in a fast group, they’ll go faster, but they never see themselves as contenders.

And the last group, with no capital letters, finds satisfaction and solace in doing the least amount possible in this situation.

These hats aren’t permanent, and different people wear them in different settings. We may have been handed a hat from an early age, but ultimately, it’s a choice.

The only resilient choice, the one that leads to agency, contribution and a cycle of improvement that doesn’t depend on the outside word… is the top left quadrant. You either push yourself or wait for others to push you.

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