Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Secure Under-Achiever

One of my favorite books is "The Outsider" by Albert Camus. For me, the most striking part about the book was how self-assured the protagonist was about his limitations - his inability to worry about his mother's death, the nonchalance with which he kills the man at the beach due to his natural instincts, how he calmly accepts the sentence meted out to him et al.

In the real world, we are almost always very affected by some sort of a world-view on our abilities, and the expectations arising from them - everybody is expected to get 90%, 95% and become the CEO of a company (well, not everybody, but, you get the point).

I tend to get very stressed when I under-perform. It is a feeling that invades my entire body and makes me want to bust my head against a wall. This has happened often enough in the past, and as much as I don't want to get stressed, the only way out has been to burn the midnight oil and toil.

However, things are changing.

Today, I had a performance evaluation, and it didn't go well. Several areas of improvement were pointed out to me. Normally, in such a case, I would get very stressed, argue with the evaluator, get in a blue funk - as I have many times before. But today, my response was different. I calmly heard him out, explained my side of the story, and (in my head) accepted that 80 times out of 100, the situation would repeat itself.

Looking back at the last 6 weeks, improving upon how I did would, in my opinion, stretch me to the seams - and as someone who is a fervent believer in the 80:20 law, it's not worth it.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that I have now come to terms with what I can do, what I can't - keeping into account my happiness and general well-being.

This doesn't mean that my plans for world domination have in anyway lessened. Just that I wouldn't screw my life over it, and probably not chide myself for not getting there.

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