Saturday, December 06, 2008

Being 'Good' is not tough!



I was thinking that being good is not tough at all! When I mean good, I mean being good at things. But, being great is very tough. 

For e.g., some one can be good in singing. He may be able sing significantly better than a large percentage of the population. May be he is better than 90% of the world population. But, he may not even dream of competing with someone like Sanjay Subrahmanyam or G.N.B [1]. This is what I mean by it being good is not tough, but being great is. To reach to the top 0.01% takes significantly large effort than reaching the top 10%. When I say significantly large, I mean the effort is in order of 100s or 1000s.

Then there are people who are insanely great - The Genius stuff. They simply blow me away. Almost their entire persona is resonating with the frequency of what they want to achieve. Though they appear to exist in this world, they don't. They may jump up suddenly with a sudden glimpse of something extraordinary. They have solved a problem that many couldn't. 

I don't want you to mistake the problems these insanely great people solve. These problems cannot be solved by a crowd - Adding more people to solve these genre of problems doesn't help. You'll need the help of a crack genius to solve whacky problems. A group of million regular people in thought cannot have the breakthroughs Einstein had to establish Special and General theory of relativity. 

I remember a Bond movie, Golden Eye, I think, where one of the bad guys asks another bad guy - 'Why did you get this guy to build this gun? This guy is insane' - The other bad guy replies - 'Sane people don't build such machines'

The Genius domain has always puzzled me. I always wish, hope and pray that I could have a glimpse of the domain, however brief it may be. 

In a talk You and your Research, Hamming talks about how these Genius people work, and even how to get there! Please check it out when you have time. You'll thank me for it. The key is to work harder and harder. When I had just joined Philips, I worked with an excellent Architect, who used to tell me - 'Sriram, the key is to work very hard. You have to keep churning, however hard it might be. You have to persevere. At the end, the Amrit (Elixir of Life) has to come' [He was talking about the mythology where a milk ocean (Ksheera Sagara) had to be churned to get Amrit that would bestow immortality to people who would drink it]

Einstein said 'Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration' - This may be true. But I have seen few genius guys crack some serious stuff with zero effort. May be it is the result of hardwork they put in earlier. I'll never know. But, it is truly possible to be insanely great by hardwork alone. The key is to avoid distractions and have focus. [I'll talk about focus and how I learnt its importance from one person I greatly admire and respect in a future post.]

In the end, it is one's choice to be bad, good or great. All I wanted to do was to prod people in the 'good' category to try and move to the 'great' or 'insanely great' category. Satisfaction is not a virtue sometimes :-)

PS:- 
The picture in the beginning is a photo of Einstein's Black Board (http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/blackboard/images/einstein-l.jpg)

[1] My knowledge is limited to Carnatic Music (Indian). Please replace the names by Stalwarts and Genius in the genre of music you like. 

2 comments:

Arjuna said...

"Then there are people who are insanely great - The Genius stuff. They simply blow me away. Almost their entire persona is resonating with the frequency of what they want to achieve. Though they appear to exist in this world, they don't. They may jump up suddenly with a sudden glimpse of something extraordinary. They have solved a problem that many couldn't. "

Yow drogs -- enna romba over-a pugalra :D...I told u not to write abt me :D

Sriram V Iyer said...

Sorry Drogs, I'll not write about you next time (LOL)

I have surely seen you jump when you glimps someone ;-) who is extraordinary >:o)~>