The Ultimate Human Race to Conformity

Why do we keep on being stuck in follow-the-crowd mode?

The ultimate race to human conformity
Are you in the ultimate race to conformity?

South Africa loves the Comrades Marathon. On Comrades Day a large percentage of the nation is glued to their screens or following their Comrades App religiously. Whether you are a runner or not, everyone knows when it is Comrades Day. The Comrades Marathon has even been branded The Ultimate Human Race. My question is who has decided that this race is the ultimate human race? Is this race really the ultimate of races or have we lined up for the ultimate human race to conformity?

Who is in control of our lives?

The creatives in the marketing world often come under fire for twisting the truth one notch at a time when no one is watching. Pulling us further and further into a world that they have created for us to follow. The puppeteer holding the strings. And we allow them and the big business behind them to be in control of our lives.

The Pain and the Glory

Make no mistake. Being a runner myself, I have had a bunch of seriously dedicated friends who have trained their hearts out for many months in order to be able to have crossed the line at Moses Mabhida Stadium in the time that they had as their goal. I have been at our club’s send-off walk last week and I have followed my friends on the Comrades app for almost the entire race. I understand their pain and their glory.

So much more

But, and this is a big but, there are so much tougher races in South Africa alone. So much more to test our ultimate endurance in much more strenuous environments. UTD160 is one of the first running races that come to mind. You even have to run with your passport for this one! There is the MacMac 200 miler which is done on foot if you did not know. Or you can attempt something like the Expedition Africa 500km adventure race which takes place in Lesotho.

Do we know what is the ultimate human race?

A world of more possibilities

Yes, I know there is an abundance of more exciting races. Longer, tougher, or just much more fun. The point that I am trying to make is that there is a world of possibilities out there if you are prepared to stop following the masses and start saying yes to new adventures. After all, who wants to do the same thing over and over again? Year in and year out. Even if it was fun in the past. Even if it was a major challenge in the past.

Belonging is less stressful

There are an infinite amount of psychological studies that have already been done on the subject of wanting to belong. Wanting to conform. There is nothing wrong with belonging. It remains a human need. Ask Maslow et al. It creates a comfort zone for us to chill and conserve our energy. It is just so much less stressful to go with the majority. But at some point, we need to make a move with or without the group.

Always more to explore

At some point, we need to ask ourselves if we are stretching far enough. At some point, we need to cultivate a culture of searching for more. After all, if we don’t we will never know what we have missed out on. Whether in physical challenges, business challenges, or the host of alternative challenges that we find on our life wheel. There is always more to explore. More to research and conquer. There are always better ways of doing things, even if we already believe we are the bee’s knees. There is always someone else that knows more about a subject than you do. This does not make us inferior in any way. It only creates possibilities for growth. Options to new horizons.

The ultimate race to conformity
You can choose which race you want to be

Save yourself when you are super stuck

And then there are people who try attempting Comrades Marathon at all costs. They literally train until they are physically and emotionally broken. The calamity is that they are possibly not built to finish the Comrades Marathon. Or do not have the resources that others are privy to. And that’s OK too. Just because some clever creative came up with the phrase that Comrades is the Ultimate Human Race, does not condemn you to feel like the ultimate loser if you cannot complete it. Running ultras is not for everyone. Running a restaurant can be amazingly rewarding, but not everyone is cut out to survive it. And that is perfectly OK. Albert Einstein once famously said: “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

Save yourself from the Ultimate Race to Conformity

You have a choice to keep on following what the masses are doing and saying and thinking. You do however have a choice to step out of the Ultimate Race to Conformity. Steve Jobs’ words summarise this so beautifully:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes … the ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Here’s to stepping out of the Ultimate Human Race to Conformity.

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