7 Perils of the “Survival of the Fittest” Theory…

2015/07/02

Ever since Herbert Spencer coined this term based on Darwin’s theories, it has probably been the most used excuse for anything that we would not do in a more cooperative world. Though we don’t live in what can be defined as a cooperative world, the irony is, we also want to get away from what is called the “Rat Race”. Pretty nice contradictions to live with right?

So, have you noticed people who live by the survival of the fittest theory? Irrespective of the demographics or socioeconomic background they come from, there are some commons traits and behaviors they seem to display which is not only remarkably consistent, but also clearly distinguishable. These are some I have noticed.

They cant make meaningful friendships: Forget friendships, many cant even make meaningful relationships with siblings. Since people who live by this theory always have to be better than the crowd, anyone part of it is a competition. And because of this, no one can be a true a friend. Most people they know are only accomplices that can come in handy for the pursuit of goals.

They are mostly comfortable, but highly stressed too: Again, this is a result of meaningless comparisons and pointless pursuits. Since the world can only take a “few” survivors, wanting to survive is a need that results in (mostly) pointless analysis.

They don’t trust easily: Actually, this could have been the first point. In fact, it is this trait that results in point 1.

They play their cards close to their chest: Since they hardly trust anyone, they have no choice but to play their cards close to their chest. Sometimes, it can be so apparent that even an innocuous, question like “when do you generally leave from work?” would be replied with a suspicious “why do you ask this?” question. But, at the far end, they would not mind taking favors from the same people though.

They have an apparent scarcity mindset: Try asking them to part with something they own, and you will know this. Even if they know its hardly useful, they just can’t part with what is theirs.

They just don’t mind passing the buck: Forget “not minding” passing the buck, some would have even mastered this art. In many cases, they might even take credit for what they don’t deserve, but not take responsibility for anything close to failure.

What they live by is a substitute of what they live for: Everyone has ambitions which results from life goals and we make some compromises to achieve them, but people who have the survivor mindset actually don’t seem to have any true “no-no’s” for themselves. The only no-no would probably be not compromising on their goals.

Whatever said and done, survival of the fittest mindset people also have their own moments and pursuits of happiness. But mostly, their happiness would be a derivative of what comforts they can possibly possess.

What do you think? Am I missing anything here? Or is “survival of the fittest” a natural process that we have to “adapt” to?


When does a Manager Grow…

2011/04/15

I recently read a post, that talks about busting the “I can do anything” myth for a manager. These were some fundamentally sound thoughts and should be read by all managers and aspiring managers.

But then, these thoughts might help a front line manager. Leadership is not just about inspiring, motivating etc, agreed, but then is it about being the specialist? In my opinion, being a specialist will not pave way for a holistic picture of the business and environment in general. Leaders and managers may not, and in good many cases, cannot grow if they are functional specialists. The chances of growth are more if we are operational specialist, people who know a bit of everything, and everything of something. Did Bill Gates know anything about marketing or sales or HR when he started off? He was a specialist. But, could Microsoft have become so big if he had not known a few things about all functions without being a specialist in them?

For a manager to grow, the “I can do anything” myth is definitely not going to help. But knowing what you can do, getting help in places you cannot, knowing what questions to ask, understanding the right problems to solve, a deep understanding of the stake holders who are going to be benefited by solving the problems, etc. can be the key for leadership success and generally, leadership growth. It then boils down to a more fundamental thought – Humility. What will help a manager grow is the “I can manage anythingconfidence, but a deep rooted knowledge and acceptance of the “I don’t know everythinghumility. That way, the manager not only grows, but also helps the specialist grow by asking the right questions and brining into focus the specialists at the right time.

What do you think? Do you feel being a specialist is probably the best way to grow? Do you feel working at being a “true” generalist is not a good use of time? Or what else do you think is the best organic growth factor for a manager?


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