Competition – An ignition or defusing?

18, Aug, 2017, by Seema Bhatnagar

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~ Neale Donald Walsch

The very word, “competition”, sends jitters to many. This word conveys a feeling of participating in some race with an objective to stay ahead by beating someone.

Right from childhood each child is coaxed to pursue competitiveness, be it in school with peers or at home with siblings. There is hardly any situation where one is not pushed to do better than others. On proving oneself better over others invites praise, while on losing, it invites criticism in million different way, a criticism that has a potency to literally kill someone to pieces.

No matter what we are doing, competition is an inevitable part of our life. At every step there is a Himalayan peak to climb to prove oneself a winner in the eyes of self and others.

On giving it a deeper thought, unconsciously each one of us is in competition for something or the other. It could be for getting a position at work, cracking an exam, making money, achieving targets or looking better etc. There could be million different ways of getting into competition with someone whom you don’t even know personally or the other person may not know you personally.

Why is it scary?

In its essence, competition as such is healthy for individual’s growth but it turns toxic when it is pursued with an idea to beat somebody instead of exercising personal best.

The real spirit behind a healthy competition is - to look at personal capabilities and see how much better and better one can perform each time, instead of unfairly comparing with someone else. In the same breath, it is also true that looking at someone gives you a fair idea that it is possible to reach that height or there is also another possibility exists which is not in personal purview but could be explored. In fact, comparison does lead to an improved state of affair if taken in a positive spirit, it is only a fear of losing or failing that kills the real spirit behind competition.

Olympics present such a grand and magnificent display of real spirit behind competition. Participants devote their whole life to perform their best to beat previous records set by winners. They tread and toil day and night to win the competition, knowing it fully well what needs to be achieved to win. There is no place for jealousy, inferiority or superiority against others, it is just that one has to beat what has been achieved by other.

If one gets attached to feelings of anger, jealously or inferiority for not achieving what is needed, would end up losing focus on personal performance and focus will get limited and diverted to only what opponent is doing. As a matter of fact, in the battlefield it is always important to see personal capabilities, skills and emotions and at the same time how an opponent can strike you or how powerful your opponent is. Attention is needed on both aspects, ignoring one over other would only weaken personal strike.

The results or the fruits of action are equally important as the action itself, but if one is only focused on the results and not giving required efforts and energy for performing action would only taste defeat in the end.

Bhagavad Gita, a world famous Hindu scripture, expounds that one should not focus on the results or outcome instead one must focus on what can be done best in a particular situation. This should not be interpreted that results are not important. Essentially, the underlying message is, once the goal is set one should only focus and concentrate on sharpening personal potential without worrying about the results.

A game in which players are of equal capabilities is a pleasure to watch. A perfect competition is where players are of matching capabilities so that a right potential gets played on the field and the one who wins really celebrate with a pleasure of thought that s/he did her/his best in a game. That is the greatest and most satisfying emotion one can feel while playing or participating in any competition.

Whether it is a marriage, career or studies gradually competition creeps in and starts diluting the very essence of whole situation. A constant friction and suffocation becomes a reality and people end up having bitterness against each other to the extent of manipulating and tweaking the facts or situation to get ahead of other. This fundamentally comes from a background where individuals involved are loaded with their egos, insecurities and above all refuse to accept the fact that they are not up to the mark in terms of required skills and capabilities to handle the situation.

Many relationship issues could be resolved and avoided simply if involved individuals realized the fact that they need to work on their potential to be more competitive and cooperating. Same is true for work situations, where each one is trying to get the biggest share of a pie. A simple, honest and sincere understanding of personal strengths and capabilities could avoid many conflicts and frictions at work.

Students appearing for competitive exams usually focus on scoring marks without paying much attention on personal understanding and clarity of fundamentals for a particular subject. This leads to a shallow understanding of subject which further builds up into stress and anxiety. This whole situation finally emerges as a fear of losing a competition.

Ignoring personal potential and jumping straight into competition is like jumping into water not knowing swimming. The more you know the different styles of swimming the more you enjoy swimming else the mere sight of water would scare you.

My personal experience

When it comes to personal journey in this context, I categorize myself as a pathetically competitive individual. Right from my childhood till the later stages of my career I had been pursuing the darker side of competition, which means I always wanted to be a winner without investing required efforts to acquire depth of knowledge, which invariably landed me in a state of jealousy, anger, stress and frustration, consequently affecting my relationships with bosses, friends and peers. I always took my defeat or criticism as a big loss and considered the opponent as my enemy and a sadist.

Interestingly, most of the times, it used to be my good friends against whom I would compare myself and see if I am ahead or not. In this whole process, on not finding myself on the top I would develop a taste of bitterness against them which would never surface but would exist silently. As a result, I would end up praying that my friends should score lesser than me so that I can feel better. It sounds stupid or mean but this is what I deeply experienced.

At work also, with my colleagues, I used to feel, how come I am not able to do it but s/he is able to complete it. Following an easier route towards reasoning, I would tell myself that s/he must have conspired against me and somehow completed the job.

After walking several miles on path of life and on realizing that I am good for nothing, now it gives me clarity why I was behaving that way and shying away from competition. Actually, I was not well-equipped at handling competition and always considered that somebody who is doing better than me is my opponent or in the worst case, would label her/him as my enemy. My whole mindset about competition was about win and loss.

Instead of sharpening my knowledge and skills to win the competition, my main focus used to be to somehow beat the opponent irrespective of the fact whether I am capable enough or not. Looking back, I find this approach utterly ridiculous and childish.

Gradually, after getting exposed to many interesting situations in life, I have learnt that competition is all about performing personal best and it gives opportunity to improve upon gaps. This learning came the hard way but I am glad that now I live with this spirit.

Things haven’t stopped in life, I still lose on several fronts but now instead of reacting and cursing the other person or feeling jealous of other, I ask myself, did I do my best or what and where is the gap for my defeat. Pointing finger to myself gives me required answer and I happily accept the situation. This approach has helped me becoming a healthy competitor from a stinking one.

I am extremely grateful to all those individuals who came in my life in one role or another and threw challenges to me. It is only because of them I could think of sharpening my skills to perform better. Had they not been there I would have deprived myself of achieving something bigger and better in myself.

Competition – An ignition

It is only because of competition that global markets have evolved and could deliver best to the world. A good example would be of a cell phone industry, it is thriving only because of healthy competition. Companies are tirelessly competing with each other for innovating and floating new ideas and products in the market. You speak of any industry, the thriving factor would be only the healthy competition.

Competition acts as an ignition only for those who really want to evolve by sharpening their capabilities and skills, for others it is really de-fusing or a scary word. At those workplaces where competition is healthy, innovation and team work are natural byproducts. In such environments, employees are self-motivated to innovate and feel responsible for what they deliver.

People who are scared of competition are ones who do not challenge themselves enough to raise the bar, instead they would criticize others or manipulate the situations merely to air their ego. They simply do not reach anywhere in terms of sharpening personal potential.

If one wants to be successful in any aspect of life, competition must be welcomed and should be taken as a way of learning. Understanding that competition is not about winning a situation but to develop personal best, will really bring meaningful growth to an individual. A truly competitive individual is a shining and inspiring star in every walk of life because the main focus is to do personal best which in turn triggers a spirit of doing personal best in others.

Related Posts
Criticism – An inevitable part of life.
Focus is power.

Seema Bhatnagar
, Blogger, Writer, Life Coach and Founder of Abundance Thinkers, site for personal growth and development. Empowering people in achieving and living the best of personal potential.

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