Self-Competition

Photo by Linh Nguyen

Competition convinces people to work hard for the wrong things. This is especially true in school.

Students compete for superiority because they have no other task at hand. School is their job. The SAT's sole purpose is to further segregate the competition.

Corporate jobs emphasize similar desultory competition; instead of competing for grades employees compete for title and more money.

Why compete at all for anything that falls outside the personal mission?

A word of advice: Don't compete. Create.

Creativity emerges from the innate desire to make new things or make existing ones better. Creativity focuses on benefitting the social good rather than elbowing for extra credit.

Animals compete to survive. Humans already have plenty of food. Competition lies only within the self, to fulfill one's innate desire to do greater good.


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What you want

…is probably not the same as what you’ll get. You may get better, or worse, but the most important thing is that you’ll get some chances.

Opportunities always arise. They can be surprisingly easy, tap-ins as they say in football (soccer), which if unprepared or unfocused become incredibly easy to blunder.

Chances are seldom. David can beat Goliath by taking advantage of them. But they don’t happen often because people succumb to underdog status. The expectation should always be that you can win even if the odds aren’t in your favor.


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No Matter What I Do, There Is Always a 27-Year-Old Doing It Better

I have come to understand that no matter how successful I become, there will always be a 27-year-old who is doing it better. Accepting this is an important step in overcoming the pain of jealousy.

Jealousy stirs up competition. But everyone needs some competitive edge otherwise we wouldn't challenge ourselves to progress. Other people are our barometer. But if you're not first, you're not necessarily last either. You can still influencer; plus, you probably offer a different perspective.

The fact remains though: There's always going to be someone better than you.


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Walk This Way

It happened to my Dad. It’s now happening to me. New York stiffens your attitude and drains your patience.

I used to be one of those walkers that got out of the way of upcoming people traffic. Not anymore. Now, I’ve become one of the ones that stand their ground and make the approaching person step around you.

Occasionally, you’ll get someone just as rigid as you walking your way. But I’ve been winning a bunch of those lately, primarily because I refuse to lift my head up out of my jacket into the bitter cold. The tortoise beats the hare.

Children and women, of course, always get a pass. Give them the right away. But the man with the briefcase is fair-game, as he’s thinking the same thing as you; he who moves first loses.

New York is a Darwinian environment. The trick is to keep moving forward without letting nudgy passerbys break a good attitude.


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Opportunistic Myopia

Opportunities are everywhere, so you build up for them in preparation for the strike.

But in preparing for the ‘next thing’ you forget about right now, in this space and time.

How do you appreciate the present without getting obsessed with the future?

Self-service is obvious and ugly. It’s not all about you, it’s about the team you’re trying to help. The endeavor is a cohesive one rather than an individual one.

Sometimes great leadership requires selfishness. Someone’s got to lead the comeback or attempt that game-winning shot. But most of the time, your work requires that it help others too, and not just yourself.


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Being First

Competition results from a combination of getting ahead and the fear of missing out.

As soon as one person gets ready to depart the train, they all do. No one wants to be last even though exiting the train is a process of seconds no matter how big the line is.

In the movie Talladega Nights Ricky Bobby admonishes, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” Train passengers literally hold the same mentality.

The subconscious is always competing with others. Getting ahead is an animalistic urge, as is the emulation of just keeping up with the rest of them; not everyone wants to lead the pack but they certainly refuse to fall behind.

A superiority complex guarantees a life of constant fear and stress. Pace prolongs progress. It’s better to store energy for the life events that really matter. Pick the right battles.

The only real competition is within the self, to achieve greater personal growth.


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