This is an essay in response to some lessons I have had to learn recently. Fun.
Competition can be healthy. It motivates, and it catapults us toward goals that may not otherwise be possible.
When that mindset consumes us, it becomes a huge distraction, if not an obstacle of success. Becoming all-consumed in competition seems to run along this spectrum: honest ambition, to aggression, then on to rivalry, until finally you are at sheer opposition.
Think about how this whole process can defeat, rather than facilitate our endeavors. Just a few thoughts–
1. Unwise use of time. Don’t waste your time by touring the mind-trail of doubt or disappointment. Moreover, looking back, checking on others’ progress, how far they have gone, or how large a load they are bearing, only slows down our push. And it can even inhibit us from trying anything.
Dwelling on your competition out there, looking over your shoulder all the time…it may literally slow you down and interfere with your concentration. Also, it could possibly make you miss some wonderful opportunities. Embrace where you are at on YOUR journey.
2. Ruse of the mind. Say you have a race to run. If you are named the best in town, there will be someone better in your state. If you are best in the state, you will not be as good as someone in the country. Alas, think about how it would feel to become national champion. At first it would be fantastic, until an emptiness lurks… you have nowhere higher to go. The “post-marathon blues.”
If that sounds like you, you have to check: Was the inner drive fueled by competition against others, at the expense of the LOVE OF WORKING TOWARD THE GOAL? Don’t let your mind play this trick on you. The joy is in the journey.
3. Rude. Coming from such a cut-throat competitive state of mind, we can not enjoy the accomplishments of our competitors. Most of the time, aren’t these various competitors ultimately our friends? These are people with whom we train, collaborate, socialize, even confide in. If can’t feel happy for them in their particular successes, even when they are ‘better’ than you, then you are not being a true teammate or friend.
Embrace their success…chances are you were a part of it anyway.
A few thoughts on how to avoid the drift down the spectrum?
If you have any sentences that start with “If only….” or “I just wish…” then do a gut check on your competitive nature.
See your competition as an encouragement first, not an opponent. There is so much freedom in knowing you have a mutual commitment toward hard work, and then being truly proud of each other.
Identify everything that you are hung up about. Your competition is faster or stronger (or insert your goal here). Fix it. Guess what. A little extra hard work goes a LONG way. Practice. Believe in the strength you have been given.
Enjoy the journey! Be thankful that you are even in the game.