There are a lot of self-help books on the market today, telling us to keep our chins up, and generally giving us a pat on the back. The problem is, that these are just opinions, and don’t offer us anything more substantive. Where is our inherent goodness and self worth? I, on the other hand, am going to show you quantitatively, that you are indeed – all of you – winners of the highest order, and that each of you sitting here today is more magnificent that you have ever imagined!
It all starts with this question: What are we exactly? What is the nature of our individual essence? What combination of events has made us uniquely us?
Before I tell you how I see things, and I want you to take a leap of faith with me right now, because I can neither prove nor disprove my theory. This theory started back in my youth, when I thought to myself “Why are my brother and I different people, if we were conceived by the same parents?”. I believe that our particular awareness, or soul if you will, is composed by the union of a particular ovum with a particular spermatozoa. Therefore, if a human egg was fertilized by a different sperm, then I believe a different soul would be created.
Years ago, I was wondering this very thing about my own conception. What if a different spermatozoa fertilized the egg? What would be different? On the surface, absolutely nothing. Since the sperm determines the gender of an offspring, I could have been born female, but let’s assume that I wasn’t. My mother would have become pregnant, probably on the same day; she would have given birth, nine months later, probably on the same day, and in the same hospital. My parents would have named the baby Robert, and (I would imagine), there would have been much rejoicing throughout the land!
However, that baby wouldn’t have been me — it wouldn’t have been the same soul, the same essence, the same 3-pound universe. A baby would have been born, but I would not have been created.
I was doing some research on the Internet a while back, and I discovered two things: that It takes over 6 hours for sperm to reach the ovum, and that it takes over 100 million sperm to fertilize one egg. This is certainly dry medical information but this is also the message I want to drive home. The fertilization of a human egg is a non-stop race, lasting over 6 hours. There are over 100 million competitors in this marathon. And of those 100 million, there can be only one winner… and that winner is —- you, and you, and you, and you! Everyone sitting in this room right now is an undisputed champion of an almost unimaginable magnitude!
You are, each one of you, the best of 100 million – think about it! That’s over three times the population of Canada, and one third the population of the United States. It’s two thousand Skydomes full of people.
Charles Darwin wrote about evolution being “the survival of the fittest”. Every one of you here, is already the fittest among 100 million. Not only have you accomplished this unfathomable task, but you did it before you even split into two cells! Winners indeed of the highest order.
The word winner is used quite a bit these days – too much in my opinion, and also incorrectly. Let’s take a look at the word “winner”. So, what is a winner anyway? The way I look at things, there are three levels to this label:
Level 1: Winning by association. This is the lowest level, and it’s used when people bask in the reflected glory of the accomplishments of others. Imagine a group of men sitting in a sports bar, watching their favourite team on the big screen TV. Suddenly, their team wins the game and everyone jumps up and shouts “We won! We won!”. I think Jerry Seinfeld expressed it best when he said “Na na na na na na — they won…. you — watched”.
Level 2: Lottery winners. Becoming an instant millionaire must be tremendously exciting, and everyone slaps the label “winner” on the recipient of the prize. But if you won, what did you do differently? Did you put more effort into walking to the variety store? You aren’t really a winner — the numbers on your ticket merely matched the ones picked during the draw. It could have happened to anyone, and frankly, you are not really that special.
Level 3: Solitary competition against skilled opponents. This level identifies the true winners because finishing in first place requires not only skill, but more skill, strength, agility, reflexes, speed, and brainpower than your opponents. It could be a tennis match, chess tournament, bicycle race, or a marathon — perhaps a 6-hour non-stop marathon with 100 million competitors. Winning at this level depends not on association, dumb luck, or even a team effort — but on you, and your unique combination of skills and abilities.
So, the next time someone tries to cheer you up and tells you that you’re one in a million, you can just look at that person and say “One in a million? Ha! You underestimate me!”