Desire to Excel vs Desire to Exist.

An Article By Vijay Michihito Batra

The present times are an amazing example of the power of choice a person can make. If a person chooses to excel, he or she will handle the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) in a manner that fires up his or her dopamine, endorphins, serotonin and oxytocin, the golden four, the enzymes that trigger a sense of wellbeing, when one lives sensibly and proactively.

On the other hand, if you and I were to just exist, none of the Golden four will be triggered by our behaviour and life style, rather, since we are just existing, we will take the brunt of the VUCA world, and end up reacting and experiencing fight or flight syndrome consistently, thus suffering from the painful thee, the adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol, that over a period can create havoc to our health, immune system and damage our sense of well-being.

I have watched two of my childhood friends, one is driven to excel and the other is driven to exist. My friend, who is driven to excel, has developed an amazing business and is consistently engaged in meaningful activities, be it with his family, friends and health. I have never seen him talk “bad” about others or unnecessarily criticize things that he can’t control, like the government or issues in the society at large.

My “friend” whose desire is to exist, is the opposite, he will constantly criticize others, in their absence, talking to him is seldom pleasant, he always “bad” mouth’s acquaintances. Constantly chewing tobacco, and making small bets in cricket matches, just to pass time. His business has shrunk, his relationship with his sibling is in shambles and is constantly predicting the doom of the country, ascribing it to politicians and bureaucrats in power.

I have realized watching him over the years, that the thrill of being alive is missing in his life. He talks a lot about the glory of his family in the past generations. The good thing that has happened is that his spouse has taken a proactive approach, and educated the children well, and they are well placed and heading in the right direction. I respect his spouse for she, in-spite of the reactive life style of her husband has adopted a very proactive approach.

Just to add, my friend who is driven to excel, sometimes in his obsession to excel, shadows his family members, which at times dampens the intent of the family members to excel. In his desire to push them, they end up recoiling. I remember a famous anecdote that my father used to narrate, “if you try to push someone, they may not reach, but if you were to pull, like the rope, this will reach.”

In my case, I see myself often oscillating between the extremes of excelling and existing. My pursuit is to move more towards excelling.

My father often would say, “none of us get to live in a perfect world, but whatever world we get, we can always do better consistently and live better in the given world.”

My father lived by this, and in-spite of challenges he made his life better.

I wish you all to learn from people who are driven to excel and do what you can to break out of the inertia of existing.


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