Who are you cheating?

I was participating in a a leadership training program early this week. As part of the training, we had an exercise.

We were divided into two groups and asked to perform a certain task. There were well defined rules applicable to performing the task. The group that performed the task faster was the winner.

Both the groups started right in earnest. One group finished earlier than the other. The trainer insisted that the performance of the winning team was subpar, and asked whether both groups were willing to give it a try again. Both the groups agreed. Again when one of the groups finished, the trainer said that the performance was subpar and asked the task to be redone.

After two or three iterations, one group modified the method that they were using to do the task. The new method still followed all the rules laid down. They managed to do the task five times faster than the other group and won the competition hands down.

The other group accused the winning group of cheating, since their method was so different! On the other hand, the winning team felt exhilarated as they had innovated to get way more efficient than the competition.

That started me thinking. What really is cheating? Here is a slightly modified Wikipedia definition of cheating

Cheating refers to the overt or covert breaking of rules to gain advantage in a situation. The rules infringed may be explicit, or they may be from an unwritten code of conduct based on morality, ethics, custom or assumptions, making the identification of cheating a subjective process. (Only modification is addition of word assumption)

If the process of identification of cheating is subjective and could be based on an unwritten code of conduct that is based on assumptions, may be our own assumptions, how objective could we be when we accuse someone else of cheating or not being fair? Could it really be us who is cheating ourselves?

When we accuse the examiner of being unfair and asking questions which are not part of the syllabus, are we really not cheating ourselves by not admitting that we didn’t study enough for the exam?

When we accuse our boss of being partial to our colleagues and playing favourites, are we cheating ourselves by not admitting that the boss may have very sound reasons for doing that which we are unaware of?

When the business competitor captures your market share by producing a superior product using a brand new technology that they invested in or by adopting a very novel method of marketing, even though you may feel cheated out of your market, can you really accuse the competition  of cheating? Shouldn’t you be spending that time and energy into figuring out how to beat the competition in the new situation rather than blaming them?

In conclusion, any time we feel cheated, wronged, taken advantage of, we should really examine our assumptions and take corrective actions rather than feeling frustrated, feeling sorry for ourselves.

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3 Responses to Who are you cheating?

  1. Prajakta Bagwe says:

    It was interesting …never thought of this point of view

  2. Pingback: DWYSYWD | Makarands Musings

  3. Mohammed Sufiyan says:

    Thanks for sharing..

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