follow the herd


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XXX award. YYY scholar. ZZZ woman of the year et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

All. Not. Mine.

Nothing to do with me, except for the fact that I feel incredibly insignificant when I scroll the WeChat Moments and group chats and Facebook links and LinkedIn updates whilst sprawled on my bed, starting at the phone screen at 5 past midnight.

I like titles. I can give you a million reasons why. That’s not the point.

I have just been thinking what these titles that I will probably never attain, represent for me. Or rather, what solace do I seek from them?

I had deferred my MBA 10 years ago for a year to come to Beijing for a job advancement. It is serendipitous – and ironic – that the school I almost went to for my MBA became my school for another degree programme and then I had coached the students. It could have been me on the other end of the table, wondering what this person is rambling on about behaviours and emotions in leadership. All got derailed of course a decade ago, and in the end I fell off the treadmill and reoriented myself for some freaking years in suspended animation.

Easy to rationalize that I was on my way out anyways and finance was not going to be my legacy. Truth be told, I was not cut out for it. I scored shit for the promotion assessment, barely passed and had my yearly performance ratings not been anything short of stellar, I may not have made it through another year at the institution.

I wanted to matter: to say I have done something good for the world, improved the state of humanity, influenced a few souls.

If the measure of influence was in the number of likes, then my klout would be negative. I bought no followers, I have no marketing agency behind me, I half-heartedly copy and paste some keywords when I publish each post in a vain attempt to get some SEO going. No one organically reposts my posts or writings, which shows me how irrelevant my ramblings are, and they remain, very much, my ramblings.

Bob Lefsetz is right on:
And since everyone needs to be and is entitled to be famous, rankings are abhorred. We cannot separate the wheat from the chaff. So there’s an endless buffet of items from McDonald’s as well as Spago. You just end up eating at the same place. And eating is another incomprehensible endeavor, you’ve got to know every food truck and every chef and have an unlimited budget to partake.

So be it.

Then what comfort do I find in an award, in the occasional publicity, in recognition from others I deem more successful than me?

Maybe just a sense of matter-ing to some.

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As Lefsetz wrote:

So, it’s the greatest time to be alive and simultaneously the worst. No one can be bored anymore, the history of entertainment is at your fingertips and you can communicate with everybody you’ve ever known instantly. But you’re lacking meaning in life, while charlatans tell you they have the answer, whether it be the religious right or the bogus left. So you’re left with yourself, which brings us back to the beginning, you’re fighting for your space on the planet yet keep being told you don’t matter, and feeling meaningless to boot.

We follow the herd. Groupthink is unavoidable because to go against it means you are on your own – not much of a leader then with no followers. There are marketing strategies and agencies with teams of people you have never met who will manage your social media accounts and buy ad space. How much percentage of the “likes” we see are genuine, and how many are clicked via phone farms? 

Is honest, organic, growth and popularity still possible?

Will you see through all this too? Or is the mass blinded by its own mediocrity?

Oh, don’t forget, I am part of the mediocrity.

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about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.