There is a beautiful anecdote about a Horse race. In the horse race, the horse owners would have their horses participate in the horse race and the best horses would get cash awards. In the race, a Donkey`s owner would also participate, but since the donkey was slow compared to the horses, the Donkey would always come in last and that to by a big margin. The organisers to dissuade the Donkey`s owner to participate would penalize the owner. This happened three years in a row. After the third loss, the organiser pulled aside the donkey`s owner and asked him why do you keep participating when it was very clear that the Donkey could never come close, let alone beat the horses. Why would he want to keep being penalized monetarily, when there was no hope`
The donkey`s owner responded `the money I loose in the horse races is more than compensated, when I make my donkey run the race in which there are only donkeys running, because my donkey in his pursuit to keep up with the horses is learning to run faster and faster and when he races against the donkeys, he comes first by a far margin, and therefore ends up winning lots of cash prizes, more than making up for what I am losing in the horse races.`
The learning from the above anecdote, is to keep challenging oneself, even if it may seem to be out of our reach, for in the process we become better and better.
An old saying ``andoh mein kaana raja.` `The better would be `Kanno me andah sudrah.`
Great tennis players like Nadal and Djokovich play each other, not with the intent to beat each other, but to become better tennis players. I remember in the year 2012 Australian final match between Nadal and Djokovich that last six hours. Djokovich had won the match. In the post-match interview, Djokovich said `Today, I have not beaten Nadal, but both Nadal and I have become better tennis players.`
It is very important for us not to become overwhelmed by the results alone. The important thing is that we are becoming better. Like the wise have said, `don`t take success to your head, and failure to your heart.`
Japanese concept of Kaizen that is continual improvement focuses on the process of improvement as primary, and the result as secondary. When we make the result be it success of failure as primary, we often start getting short sighted and succumb to taking short cuts.
There is a beautiful Zen anecdote. An Archery master in Japan witnessed one of his ace disciples hitting all his three arrows in a competition in to the bull`s eyes. The audience stood up in rapturous standing ovation. When the ace archer looked at his master, he was surprised for the master showed no exuberance that was being expressed by the others in the venue. The ace archer approached his master and questioned him `Master, are you not happy for I have hit the bull`s eye with all the three arrows`` the Master responded `You have to realize that hitting the bull`s eye is no longer your target.` The ace shooter realized his folly, and thanked the master for putting him back on the track self-improvement. The next level for the ace shooter was not to be affected by the results. An ace shooter doesn`t take success to his head and failure to his heart. You can never tell by the facial express of a master, he remains calm, focused on the path of self-improvement, no matter what the result.