Escape the Rat Race

Escape the Rat Race

A teacher entered a new class of students who didn’t know each other.

Teacher: “Hello everyone. My name is Rahul. I will be your professor on Management for this semester.”

Students: “Hi, welcome to our class”

After a general introduction, the teacher thought to make the class interesting on the first day.

Teacher: “Let’s not dive into the course directly today. We have the whole semester left for the same. Let us take this first day to do something interesting that shall help us going forward in the course.”

The students felt happy and excited about what was coming next.

Teacher: “We shall have a small activity. The drill is that every student has to list down the names of every other student in the class. You are free to use whatever you want and can do anything you want, be it going around the table and ask everyone their name. Whoever gives the correct list first, shall be declared the winner.”

The students got excited and the game started. They started running around, shouting and calling out names, greeting and smiling at each other. It was a mess. The class had a headcount of 50 students and thus this running-around went on to about 10 minutes before the first person came up with the correct list.

Student: “Hey, I got the list ready with 49 names.”

Teacher: “Great. Everyone settle down, we have a winner. What is your name, young guy?”

Student: “Sir, my name is Mayank.”

Teacher: “Great job Mayank. Looks like the list you have is accurate and just what I was looking for. You are the winner and here is your award.”

The teacher got happy and awarded the student with a Parker fountain pen. Some students were panting, some were giggling, while others still laughing at the fun they just had.

Teacher: “Mayank, how did you manage to do it so fast and leave the others behind?”

Mayank: “Sir, I simply asked the names and wrote it on a piece of paper as said. Compiled it and gave it at the earliest.”

Teacher: “Interesting. I believe all the others took the same approach as well?”

Students: “Yes sir.”

All the students nodded their heads in agreement.

Teacher: “You took about 10 minutes to do so. Could you do the same faster?”

Mayank: “Probably Yes. I could have just written the first names rather than the full names”

Teacher: “Okay, very well. Get back to your desks everyone and settle down. It was a fun activity and I hope everyone liked it. But I want to share some insight on what we just did in the last 10 minutes. This drill was a simple task that anyone can do, but the main idea is who does it quicker compared to others.”

The students looked at each other with excitement.

Teacher: “I was expecting a shorter response time from you. 10 minutes was long.”

Students: “Yes sir, given a chance again, we can do it in lesser time. Around 6-7 minutes would be achievable.”

Teacher: “Had I been in your place, I could have done this task in 2 seconds.”

Everyone got shocked and was eager to know how was it possible.

Teacher: “A list of all the students was there in the attendance register on the teacher’s desk. Anyone could have come up to the desk and handed over the register to me. That’s it. All the names were there, just as I asked.

I did not ask you to write the names.

Did not tell you to use the paper.

Did not specify anything.

I just asked for the names. Be it in any form.”

The students smiled and clapped at the lesson learnt.


The same scenario appears in our day to day lives.

We have some work at hand and wish to do it optimally. At many points in time, we tend to overlook the circumstances and resource, thus get distracted and lose out the simplest solutions possible for the problem.

We tend to make things complicated and refrain from thinking at the ground level, thus losing useful resources like time and energy.

Come out of the Rat Race, don’t follow everyone blindly without making your own decisions.

You can achieve more than you want to. Don’t limit yourself to the circumstances.

We should devote some time to analyse the situation, make relevant assumptions, take into account the resources at hand and most importantly the time frame. If we do this to the best of our knowledge, we are guaranteed to be faster and accurate than anyone else.

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