In his quest to be different, a client mentioned how he put himself out on a limb in a group. He would push boundaries, do stupid things, act out, and put himself at risk; all in his drive to be seen as being different. He added that he wanted to be noticed, even if it meant being noticed for the ‘wrong reasons’ – at least his uniqueness would be acknowledged.
It emerged that he wanted to be accepted and respected by those he interacted with. But unfortunately he had become extreme in his attempts to be noticed (by being so different). Inadvertently, his attempt to gain acceptance resulted in him being rejected by his social group.
My client has a love for the bush and has recently enrolled for a diploma course in nature conservation. I decided to send him 3 photographs that I took during my recent visit to the Kruger National Park. I asked him to take a careful look at them and share with me what he noticed.
As our conversation unfolded, the theme of ‘blending in’ began to emerge. Blending in is nature’s way to ensure the survival of a species. Blending in, discounts self importance. Blending in requires that one needs to be co-operative and sensitive to those that surround us. Wanting to be different is usually driven by competitiveness.
In order to be successful in sport, an athlete needs to stand out and achieve. This requires a competitive spirit.
Co-operation and competition are complementary processes that should be in balance. If these energies are not in balance, some problem is likely to unfold.
Elite athletes need to feel comfortable out of the spot light when off the field of play. However, many elite athletes have difficulty with this, since they are usually addicted to all of the attention that their success has brought them. This addiction for attention, in turn, may play itself out in other ways. For example, if one examines the sexual activity of some of these athletes that has been reported in the media, the ‘rules of engagement’ with women seem no different from the way they react and respond on the sports field. Their sexual behaviour is usually driven by conquest, victory, self-importance and self-indulgence. Paradoxically, the athletes who seek so much attention manage to get all the attention that they may be looking for (albeit for the ‘wrong reasons’) when their private worlds get exposed by the media and end up in the public domain.
Nature tends to shy away from attention. Animals attempt to blend into the context in which they exist. Did you notice the frog climbing the tree trunk, the duiker (buck) lying under the tree, the lone kudu browsing on the rock above the group of impala? While animals can be competitive and territorial; a dynamic balance always exists between the ability to blend in and the need to stand out.