IT Professional

The good, the great, and the extreme…

with 23 comments

I was reading something the other day about the great Tiger Woods. I read about how he may have lost his drive because of all the distractions, and how he’s more or less a regular person now because of his eventful past year. Which got me to thinking…people always talk about drive and hunger thrusting the greats to where they want to go. There is of course, a flip side to that coin. I also used to think that it was a drive, a thirst, an insatiable need to be something, to make your mark in this world. I read another story from an NFL player telling rookies about the difference between a good and a great player and the questions it involves. The way he broke it down as one of the best athletes in the world seems a bit more credible. Nonetheless, both takes offer perspective.

I have also been persuaded to believe that the hungry and ambitious have something about them that simply compels them to achieve. I have also noticed how many people who are neither high achievers or otherwise noteworthy tend to have something compelling them as well. I have noticed this in drug abusers, womanizer’s and women who sleep with men looking for affection. I have noticed it in people who hate their mother, who hate their father, who resent their brother or sister and those who show all sorts of compulsive behavior.

As far as drive and thirst and ambition are concerned, I am thinking about something else that is the lowest common denominator when it comes to this subject. I’m talking about running. Okay, maybe its just another way of saying someone has some compelling reason to be who they are, but its a little more than that. For example, I know a brilliant man who is sort of a psychopath. He is very successful, and by most accounts he is well-regarded in a lot of circles. Of course there is some background that I know about him that he never displays to the world. Then on the other hand, I know a brilliant woman who is not interested at all in achieving what we might call success. She is  not very well-regarded in most circles, and again, there is some background that I know about her that she would be loath to show to the world.

Both of the above people I wrote about above are running. I would include Tiger Woods in there as well. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan as well, myself and a host of other people out there. Look at Ted Williams. He stated many years ago that all he wanted to be was the best hitter there ever was and by all accounts, his hitting is legendary. Of course, his children fought over his remains instead of burying him and his body sits without a head in a cryogenic freezer in Arizona. Now we all know that the best of the best are usually the worst kind of people. Of course we could turn that around and see that the worst kind of people are usually the best at something.

The real jewels of our society, the real people who make the world go round are the ones who are not driven, and who are not so hungry that they snatch the food out of the hands of their own children. They are the even-keeled, the janitors and street cleaners, and garbage truck drivers…the role players, the servants. The people who give so much of themselves that the ones that us hungry and ambitious have left behind have something to eat. The ones who, dare I say, have the strength to ignore the call to be noticed. Those who are not preoccupied with standing up and being counted.

It’s easy to be compelled to do something, to be driven. It takes real strength to walk, not at a leisurely pace, but merely to walk so as not to run over anyone on the way to where you want to go. To be careful and notice where you are, not in a sense of living life to the fullest, but because its crowded in here. It takes real strength to stay calm even though you have been truly served with injustice. Not just calm on the outside, but to forgive, make a decision and move on. To not bury those feelings bubbling inside of you, but to release them through love, hard work, and thoughtfulness. Yes, flowers and babies and sunshine and all of that good stuff. Genius is totally overrated and on top of that those with that capacity are usually extreme in one sense or another.

Tiger is running, and so are many of us. Being ahead of the pack only ensures that we leave humanity behind…

Running from the rest


Written by lionoah

June 22, 2010 at 10:00

23 Responses

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  1. That was a great read…a lot of what you said is very true. I would say that in order to be the best at something sometimes you have to be a bit selfish. Luckily that’s not always the case.


    June 22, 2010 at 16:19

  2. thanks for the information you have provided. friendship greetings


    June 22, 2010 at 16:30

  3. A completely different perspective but a compelling read none the less. Its true, people get lost in the world of heroes and role-models (yours truly included), its good to take a step back and see the world from the same level as everyone else.


    June 22, 2010 at 18:03

    • Someone once told me that the most valuable people in society are those that do the things we couldn’t live without…like changing the sheets at a hotel, cooking our food, picking up the trash and cleaning the sewage. If those people flip out or are unstable, we are all in deep trouble! Thanks for reading!


      June 22, 2010 at 18:09

  4. Hello everyone,

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    June 22, 2010 at 23:29

    • Just a quick tip youngster…if you can develop a website, and are smart enough to get accepted to DePaul, you dont need handouts. You need to work just a little harder


      June 23, 2010 at 11:34

  5. Well written and well analyzed. It’s a lonely journey to be great.


    June 23, 2010 at 02:21

  6. life always rotates either from right or left and I think too fast rotation of the wheel will result in a change and it depends on time! source


    June 23, 2010 at 08:34

  7. Great write-up. It seems that yes, a lot of very famous or successful people have indeed been “running” from something in their lives (Childhood, loss of a parent, insecurity etc etc)They usually make the biggest noise and grab the most attention- but it’s the “ordinary people” of this worls who are the real starts of the show.


    June 23, 2010 at 08:42

  8. its always good to serve


    June 23, 2010 at 09:41

  9. A compelling article (no pun intended). 😉

    I would like to understand what you meant by “we all know the best of the best are usually the worst kind of people.” I take it to mean “the most talented and skilled people, who reach the top in their field, usually let their heads swell up from the fame and glory and treat other people like instruments for their gratification.” This may or may not be true; at any rate it seems to be truer in the sports world, for example, than in some other worlds. But it could also mean something like “the most talented and skilled people, whether or not they receive fame and glory, are usually careening, amoral opportunists who see their greater powers as license to take liberties with society.” Of course this can’t be a sensible generalization. The elements of power, glory and fame make a big difference in the definition.

    I agree, genius is overrated. The most gifted people are constitutionally prone to neurosis. A sensitive and powerful instrument badly played makes far worse sound than a dull one badly played. On the other hand, a sensitive and powerful instrument can give far more eloquent music. The most gifted people are constitutionally prone to actualize their considerable potential, potential which may be developed for good or ill. The thing is, there are few safe places in society in which to release and contain the superordinate drive for expansion which characterizes gifted, high-achieving people. Their superabundant energy needs to be channeled in healthy directions, but exactly what constitutes health is a matter of great contention in this society. They often have to muck it out on their own, and many fall on their faces, like Tiger.

    But let’s not lump in all talented people with Tiger. High achieving, gifted people have a greater ability to destroy themselves and the world around them when they go bad, this is true. But let’s not paint all high achieving, gifted people as egocentric juggernauts on a glory path of destruction. This may be a trend in certain areas of achievement, such as sports or politics, but it certainly isn’t so in all fields. The point is, “giftedness + the capacity for high achievement + the ambition (drive to develop one’s potential) associated with these” is not a guaranteed recipe for an egomaniacal villain. I think in order to guarantee an egomaniacal villain, you would have to add a few more things like power, fame, the desire for power and fame for their own sakes, and most importantly, lack of moral restraint.

    Is ambition the same as compulsion? There is a drive in us to expand, to develop one’s abilities, to reach one’s potential—at bottom, what we call “ambition” is just this, and it is natural. All living things have this drive, otherwise an acorn would not become an oak tree. It is natural, then, that especially gifted and talented people would have greater ambition than others. This is not a bad thing. We need their gifts in society, do we not? The problem comes in when this drive to develop is handled carelessly or channeled into destructive inclinations, without moral restraint or charitableness. I think this kind of egocentric, reckless ambition for power and glory is what you deplored in your article, and I think most people would rightly agree. I also think the point needs to be made: what do we stand to gain if the Einsteins of society curb their ambition, avoid all attention which may come their way because of their gifts, and become garbage truck drivers?

    I also wonder about how “it’s easy to be driven”. This strikes me as a curious statement. I take it to mean that it’s difficult for the even-keeled, role-playing servant types to plod on and let the talented high achievers take all the glory and credit for making the world go round. I can see how this might foster resentment. But there’s more to being “driven to excel” than easily achieving and getting a lot of attention. This may be all it means in certain areas, such as sports, but in other cases having inner drivenness makes for a harrowing life. The people who play society’s roles and ignore the call to be noticed get what they paid for: a secure place in society, plenty of company, invisible, undisturbed by the glaring spotlight. The people whose gifts and drive to develop make invisibility and quiet harmony with society impossible for them have a rough road to travel. Often they find themselves alone, vastly misunderstood, burdened with messianic expectations from society, the object of scrutiny, scorn, blame, obsession, and mockery.

    There seems to be some notion in the article that being “driven” means “single-mindedly pushing for personal success”. This seems to be contrasted with being “not driven” which seems to mean “giving oneself unselfishly to the humble needs of the human beings around one in society, dutifully doing one’s job”. I can see how being “driven” in that definition would certainly be easier than being “not driven”, since living solely for one’s own good is generally easier than acting for the good of others. However, I think being “driven” means something far more, and quite often means pursuing a vision of improving society, of doing some good to one’s fellow man. The most driven people I know are those driven by an altruistic vision. However, there are also those who are driven to pursue their own personal gain, regardless of who they have to trample on.

    To sum up, all types of people make the world go round. The janitors and garbage truck drivers, the people who provide for our basic physical needs, are important, and so are the people who provide for our less tangible, but still real needs: musicians, visionaries, leaders. Doing one’s duty to society may mean cleaning subway stations, or it may mean performing your music in front of thousands of people, many of whom may clean subway stations for a living and are really enjoying the show. People of genius are not necessarily, nor even usually egocentric, and are often driven by an altruistic vision, a desire to help others and contribute their gifts to society. The talented often have to put themselves in the spotlight in order to give their gifts to the world, but in the end, they too ought to remain humble and approach society as a servant. Perhaps that is hard to do, given our human lust for glory, but not impossible.

    cobalt gradient

    June 23, 2010 at 12:29

    • Yes I did use the word ‘compel’ quite often in this post ; ) While I agree with a lot of what you say, I think my point was more along the lines of disputing the negative connotation behind the notion of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. With an aside to what I think are the more important roles in society.

      It seems to me that the person who focuses their energy on one singular pursuit tends to selfishness. Instead of applying their considerable talent to all manner of humanity, they tend to focus on one thing, to the detriment of many.

      I only used sports figures as an example because of their accessibility, however we find this behavior in all walks of life. Just look at politics, business, science…and I would add that (in my experience) many cases of one rising above the many is the converse of altruism. Greed compels them (us?) in one way or another. Thanks for your comment!


      June 23, 2010 at 13:42

  10. […] I was reading something the other day about the great Tiger Woods. I read about how he may have lost his drive because of all the distractions, and how he's more or less a regular person now because of his eventful past year. Which got me to thinking…people always talk about drive and hunger thrusting the greats to where they want to go. There is of course, a flip side to that coin. I also used to think that it was a drive, a thirst, an insatia … Read More […]

  11. Well done! The sentence you’ve written.”The ones who, have the strength to ignore the call to be noticed.” These people know them self, and they know also for what they’re looking for. So they don’t have the strength to ignore the call to be noticed, they give a shit of it to be noticed.


    June 23, 2010 at 16:02

  12. Hi,
    thanks for the information you have provided. friendship greetings


    June 23, 2010 at 16:52

  13. tons of athletes have gone down the same road… for some reason, people forget that these athletes are real people too and the athletes are faced with lots of stress. sure they are well paid and have great benefits, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have problems that the rest of the world has to deal with.


    June 28, 2010 at 16:55

    • Right, but they put themselves in the limelight and need to accept everything that comes with that.


      July 2, 2010 at 16:26

      • Thats true…thats why I say (not in the post), that they earn every cent…their life is an open book for everyone to read freely at their leisure


        July 2, 2010 at 19:58

  14. Great story! Lots of work went into this one. I appreciate that. I see so many story with little content. Come check out my story and let know what you think…?


    July 1, 2010 at 11:13

  15. Good post.It’s have many information.Thank you


    July 5, 2010 at 19:46

  16. […] Pressed’). It was mainly about Tiger Woods and his fall from grace. The point of my “The Good, the Great and the Extreme” was that genius talent isn’t always worth a damn. In most cases, high achievers tend to the […]

  17. […] wrote a post about this a little more than a year ago, “The Good, the Great and the Extreme“. I guess now, we can add Joe Paterno to the list of those who while striving for greatness […]

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