Last Saturday, my brother and I went to an Escape Game at AT&T Park. For those who don’t know, escape games are puzzle challenges under pressure. We had one hour to solve four sections of puzzles and escape the park. We failed miserably. It was fun, but our group didn’t get past the second section. In our defense, only twenty of the hundreds of participants solved all the puzzles. This is when I had a profound realization.
In the escape game, groups cannot communicate with one another. We face no such restrictions in the real world. Thus, if all five hundred participants formed one super team, we all would have escaped at record speed. The insight from the fastest escape artists would translate to success for all involved. Screw win-win, this is win^500.
This story highlights one of the most powerful aspects of humanity. Society only needs one Einstein to reap the benefits of special relativity. It improves by having more citizens who are the best at what they do, not well-rounded drones. “Well Lazare” you argue, “by definition there can only be one champion who’s ‘the best.’ So runner ups will always out number the geniuses” Good point.
Consider Darwin, and how he only published when Wallace threatened to discover the theory of evolution independently. The world needs more Wallaces inciting second-order change.
Consider Tim Ferriss, who became a bestseller in entirely new categories instead of competing in existing ones. Sidestep other brilliant people instead of meeting them head on.
Consider Buffett, Munger, and Ben Graham, who schooled the public in the workings of business, living, and even marriage. They reduced their competitive edge by explaining their investment philosophy because they follow an inner scorecard.
Worry less about results, and more about the change you intend to foster in society. What’s one thing you can do to add value to the world–an activity that doesn’t leech value from someone else? Try that.