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Join the Rat Race or Die

(This post is part of the 20-minute blog challenge I set for myself: Write more blog posts but only post it if you can produce it in 20 minutes. Let’s see how it goes.)

Silicon Valley

Two months ago I was in Silicon Valley. The trip was amazing. It totally opened my eyes.

But something kept haunting my mind over and over during the trip and some weeks after the trip: “These people are all competing in the biggest and brutal rat races on the planet.”

One of the guest speakers even said it out loud. He is a middle aged husband and father who originally comes from my home country The Netherland. He said that he’s waiting for some big ones to go public (IPO’s of previous companies he worked at) so he can cash out and move his family back to the Netherlands.

Don’t get me wrong. This guy has an amazing life out in SF. He is an SEO and growth God and has no hard time getting VP positions at great tech firms, so his career is far from bad. But still, this wonderful person wanted to leave.

He actually said: “I do not want my kids to grow up in this Rat Race”. When he said it, this scared me a little, Silicon Valley and all that is happening there still is my big dream. But what he said, made me think.

Is being part of the rat race something that comes with progress? Is it a price to pay for huge wealth creation and innovation at the same time? Is it something bad, and is it something that you should be afraid of?

I think not. I think it is something good. This rat race drives progress. It drives people to work the 19 a day and not the 9 a day. And for some people it means putting in the 20 a day because he/she suspects their neighbour puts in a 48 stretch during a phase of amazing flow. There is always someone willing to do the job even harder than you.

It is like Gary V says. There is a world that is totally mobile and the rest of the world. There is a world that gives you the rat race feeling and there is the rest of the world. In which world do you want to be? The world where we still do shopping on a regular computer that needs a constant power supply or do you want to live in a world where shopping is done with one-click on your smartphone.

I know which world I want to live in. The world of progress. If the rat race is something I’ll have to swallow, come and get me, I’m down.

As a personal note to end this glorification of a culture that fosters burn-outs and overheating. I do believe hard work should be something which you plan for and which you prepare for. Your body is the best feedback mechanism on the planet. Listen and feel it. When you go to hard you go to hard.


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