Society promotes competition without considering the impact it has on our communal success. Many years ago in Israel, people who I assume meant no evil, shouted Saul killed a thousand and David killed ten thousand. However, they never imagined the kind of envy and hatred their seemingly innocent praise will yield. Parents want their kids to come top in class, we unconsciously select the most beautiful woman in the room and we always look forward to the richest person list.
Can anything good come out of competing? Of course there will always be merits, but the world suffers a great deal because we promote competition.
Competition means there’s always a loser. Even kids feel like losers when they don’t come top in class or they lose at a debate. If everyone worked so hard, equally hard, there will still be just one winner and so many losers. What’s worse is we compete as though we are all gifted with the same gifts. In a class where one student will become Jeff Bezos and another will become Bill Gates, will they both be succeeding at completely different areas of life, but we’ll judge them by the same parameters and if Bill Gates is fortunate to score better grades, he’ll celebrated while we’ll make Jeff (in this example) feel like a loser.
But if competition is so bad, how do we motivate our kids, teams and ourselves? How do we succeed in competitive environments without competing? Here are a few tips:
Have a Meaningful and Audacious Goal
Society isn’t going to change; the world will remain very competitive, and humans will continue to compare two unequal (even equal) people. It’s our duty to ignore the noise and create a meaningful goal. What do you really want? What’s your deepest desire when you take away envy and societal pressure? It’s not easy to come up with the answers to these questions but it’s the path to succeeding without competing.
So many people study a course because others are selecting the course in school and they don’t want to feel left out or unsuccessful. In the end, they don’t achieve their highest potential and do not become the best they can be. Worse still, they never find true fulfillment. We can be inspired by others but we must not take the same path to feel equal or at par with them. It’s important that we do what we truly want, not what society wants.
Judge your Progress by the Goals you Set
Judge your progress only by the achievement of your goals, not how far others have come. If you plan to score a ‘B’ in a subject you have always failed, it doesn’t matter if others get an ‘F’, your metric for judging your success should be what you set out to get. If you scored a ‘B’ and everyone else scored an ‘A’, you achieved your goal. Society may think otherwise but you know in your heart you achieved your goal. Other people’s achievement shows us what is possible, not necessarily what we must achieve.
When we transcend the borders of competition and focus on doing what we truly want and achieving the winning goals we have set, we will be emboldened to act courageously against all odds and society will celebrate us. They will compare us to those who yielded to the tradition of competition and call us winners. We must ignore their praises and focus on the achievement of our own goals.
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