A Puzzle I Failed to Solve

Survival of the Fittest


According to Wikipedia,

Survival of the fittest is a phrase that originated from Darwinian evolutionary theory as a way of describing the mechanism of natural selection. The biological concept of fitness is defined as reproductive success. In Darwinian terms the phrase is best understood as “Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations.”

In everyday observation, there is a competition among the organisms to compete for the limited resources available in an environment. In this struggle for survival, those who adapt do better than those who do not. And in the long run, the better adapted organisms pass on their success to their generations.

Human societies are not much different. Children of a person who rides the success leader usually have a better chance of doing well in life too, while those who are trapped in poverty get trapped for generations. Rarely does an exceptional case breaks through a valence shell and jumps into the higher one. Finally, the majority of the world population keeps leading an average life in every respect.

Due to this reason, there is always a new and better opportunity for a brilliant athlete, scientist and artist. But there is not much chance for the average type. I have often thought about the following question: Can a person achieve the highest level of success without being the best?

So for example, can a team win the soccer or cricket world cup with mediocre players? Is there a way in which a mediocre lawyer can land big publicity cases? Or can an office clerk become the company president by just being an average employee?

Unfortunately, there is no solution to this puzzle. Nobody in the world wants to deal with mediocre. Have you ever seen an advertisement that says, “Our car is mediocre in every respect; average fuel consumption, average engine efficiency, average design and interior, and so on. Designed for mediocre people like you.” There are no advertisements like that.

Will you buy a car like that? A car that does not have any advantage over its competitors, even if it is with respect to price? Or will you agree to get operated by a surgeon whose success rate is 50% (in cases where a life could be saved)?

Until that happens, there cannot be a job posting which says, “An average engineer is required for an automobile company. The person needs not to know much, barely surviving 9-5 is OK and having an average interest+expertise in —– skills will do.”

We will keep demanding the fastest, the most efficient, or the cheapest. And the world will keep rewarding the best at the expense of the rest.

Human societies do protect their weakest links through welfare and charity. However, one has to be the best in their field to rise to the top. Unfortunately, there are no rewards for average performance.

If you are thinking that you can be a peaceful, spiritual and satisfied person and stay being average in everything else, then think again. More peace and higher levels of spirituality are attained by those who are the very best in connecting with their souls. True spiritual grandmasters lead a more blissful life than a pedestrian performer here as well.

Become the best in something. There is no escape.

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