Ahhh..a word that some people cringe and other people leap forward. It isn’t really the word itself, but different experiences people have associated with it. Some people think of failure and shortcomings, others see challenges and superiority.
Competition is such a great tool to help propel you in areas you want to be good in. If you want to be good in web design, you study other web designers and learn new languages and design skills. If you want to be good at soccer, you practice dribbling, increasing stamina, and learn new techniques.
Some things that people get confused with is that they need to be good at everything. This is unhealthy and is simply impossible. You can’t do your work the fastest, be the best at badmitton, read the fastest, speak Japanese the best , and be the best at Guitar Hero III.
What makes competition so meaningful is to hone your skills and really focus on a very select few things. If someone finishes their test before you, or can draw a porcupine better than you can – that is ok. Now if really want to be great at drawing porcupines, then you have some work to do.
Competition is more about competing with yourself than anyone else. I think this is the best form of it and the way to become excellent faster than any other process. Michael Phelps had a slew of interviews when he won an astonishing 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olypmics. A reporter asked him how he was able to do so much better than the rest of the swimmers. His answer was he simply set goals and was constantly competing against himself.
That was it. Just setting a goal saying you want to do something, and then habitually making an effort to improve yourself everyday in some way related to that goal. I think the difference between medioctrity and excellence lies in that motto. It isn’t about being “the best”. It is about a building process that could take years to accomplish.
This is the most core fundamental of what competition is to me. There are always going to be people that are better than you at something – no matter how much you try. It is possible that you will eventually be considered “the best”. In reality though, much of that status was from being lucky, talking to the right people to put you in that sitation, or knowing someone that helped recognize you.
For everyone else, they won’t be recognized for all their hard work trying to be so damn good. That is why it is about your “inner competition”. If you didn’t get the job, lost a sporting event match, or got rejected by a girl, it is YOU that has to think about it and decide what you are going to do. If you truly are competitive, you will find ways to improve and learn new skills, or change your behavior or direction to something that is more appealing.