Three Reasons “Be First or Quit” is a Stupid Philosophy

Life isn’t a game meant to be won. It’s meant to be played.

Gray Miller

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Photo by JaneB13 via Pixabay

I’m sorry. I tried to sugarcoat it. I tried to find more nice ways to say it.

I failed.

There is only one way I can react to a recent Medium essay by Darius Foroux. I have enjoyed his writing in the past, even those I disagreed with.

But recently, he wrote a piece that used a joke from Jerry Seinfeld and tried to make it into a life philosophy. A career strategy. A call to action.

It’s disastrous.

The idea was basically along the lines of: if you can’t be “first” in your career, you should quit and find a different career. Why? Because life is all a game, and no one likes losing games, so obviously you should only pick games that you can win.

I’m paraphrasing, to be sure, but the quotes back me up: “…if you’re not good at a particular game, it’s better to stop. Go and find a different game you can win at.

I’m…having trouble figuring out how to adequately express how many ways this idea makes no sense. We could start with the idea that not everyone or everything is a game, or even a competition, or perhaps the idea that by that logic everyone would always play video games at the God setting, or for that matter the idea that many of the most popular games in the world can only be played until you lose.

You don’t “win” at pinball, for example; you play as long as you can, until you lose. And then you put in another quarter and play again.

That’s a nice segue into the first reason you don’t have to be first.

1. Some People Just Like to Play

There is an anecdotal story about an indigenous culture that was taught all the rules of soccer, but had no way to tell time. The story goes that a visitor saw players going at it, full tilt, back and forth across the field, and when they asked the natives how long the game had been going on, the answer was “oh, about three days…” Admittedly, that’s kind of how long I feel most soccer games go anyway, but I’m not a fan.

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Gray Miller

Gray is a former Marine dancer grandpa visualist who writes to help adults figure out what they want to be when they grow up.