Here’s a secret: I’m shit at go-karting. Believe it or not.
Yet on a recent day out with the boys, we decided to rock up to the local track and have a spin. I was doing my usual: screeching along, wobbling side to side, trying not to bash into people and – most importantly – trying not to wipe out against the tyres at the edge of the track…
(Seriously, is there anything more embarrassing – and that makes you more fearful for your ankles – than having to get out and wheel your kart back into position after running head-first off the track?)
Anyway, what shocked me was the fact that despite starting 9th on the grid, I actually finished 6th.
Of course, that isn’t very impressive if you have a little skill at karting – but it was more than enough for me!
And, it appeared, too much for some of the others.
See, even though my three-position gain wasn’t actually all that mind-blowing, there were some pretty good drivers there that I managed to beat.
They accused me of cheating!
They were so offended by the fact that I, the dough-headed professional speaker who could barely overtake, had successfully crossed the finished line ahead of them. The only response they could muster was to call me a cheater for the rest of the day.
And this got me thinking.
Are we all cheaters at something?
If we look at our existence right now… for us to even be here talking, we’ve cheated our way into life. Seriously. The probability of you ever even existing – of winning the big ol’ sperm race to the egg – is incredibly small.
I’m sure if they could talk, those other sperm would definitely say that you cheated. That you hustled, you barged, you manipulated and did whatever you could to fertilise that egg.
Similarly, when you’re an embryo in the womb you cheat your way into existence. You leech all the essential elements you need straight from your mother.
When you’re a baby, when you’re a young child, you do whatever you can to survive, to grow, to exist – and, in later life, to reproduce.
The word “cheat” has such a negative connotation in the minds of others – and yours when you’re looking at other people – whereas from your perspective, well… you’re just doing everything you can to advance your life.
If you look at successful individuals, particularly bodybuilders – Arnold Schwarzenegger comes to mind – they often talk about knowing the rules intricately and then bending them.
When people say you’re cheating, what they’re really doing is criticising the tactics you used to get what you want based entirely on their own perception of the rules.
So are you cheating… or just bending the rules?
Getting ahead is all about knowing the rules and manipulating those rules to your advantage. But that doesn’t mean you have the excuse to a) break the rules outright or b) act with disregard for other people.
If you know that by manipulating these rules you’ll cause direct harm to other people – that there are ethical concerns there – you should think more deeply about just how these rules are bending, and how you can still do that without harming anyone else, professionally or personally.
Because every day, people “cheat” by getting the most they can out of all sorts of so-called rules – physiological rules, psychological rules, the physical and metaphysical rules laid down in life – through understanding and bending these rules to their advantage.
Look at stuntmen, for example. Do the basic rules of our physiology allow us to jump from tall buildings and survive? Of course not!
But through applying a little ingenuity and bending the rules, a skill is created. The fact that a human falling from a great height doesn’t end well, as a general rule, never goes away.[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UGUUM5yCqk[/youtube]
We all get the feeling now and then that other people have cheated, or have unfairly done things to benefit their cause or get ahead. It’s natural. It makes us feel crappy inside when someone achieves something we wanted to, but through methods we didn’t know or conceive.
But think about it – how many times when you’ve felt like this has other person actually cheated?
The number may be a lot lower than you naturally assumed.
Those other drivers – who saw themselves as better; more skilled than me – felt crappy that I’d finished ahead of them in the go kart race. The natural response was allegations of cheating.
But unless I was ramming people, blocking the track, driving the wrong way or throwing down objects like something out of Mario Kart…
It simply wasn’t possible that I’d cheated.
Here’s what I want you to take away from this:
I want you to eliminate from your mind the assumption that other people have cheated. Strip it away and disallow that reaction. Unless the other person’s behaviour is truly heinous, then the “cheater” label no longer applies.
Instead, see how that person took advantage of the situation they were in and maximised their potential to get what they want. How they refused to accept mediocrity and bent the rules to get around it.
And then think to yourself – and be absolutely honest…
Would you have done the same in an identical situation, with identical resources?
If you have that kind of mindset, you’ll go a long way in life. You’ll benefit more, contribute more, open more possibilities for yourself and provide a lot of good.
But never go the other way – to the dark side – where you bend the rules to breaking point and cause harm to other people or rob them of their opportunities.
We’re all cheaters at the end of the day… because we’re human beings and our purpose is to survive and to thrive.
If we sit back and refuse to try because of our limiting self-belief…
If we behave as a toxic influence by accusing everyone else of cheating when they try something new…
We go nowhere. The finish line remains forever out of sight.
Can you think of any examples where you’ve called other people cheaters? Why was that? What would you have done differently if you were in that situation, with the same qualities and abilities at your disposal?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments… and let’s keep your third eye open.
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