There are many philosophies regarding how competition affects our individual lives and the world at large. However, the Reality of Competition is that every living organism on our planet has always, and will continue to compete for the scarce resources available at any given time. This is an unwritten law of nature that we cannot deny or ignore. For example I'm sure that you have watched movies or documentaries about the animal kingdom, where all species seem to have several natural predators wanting to devour them for lunch. In the end the strong, swift and most adaptive animals survive the longest, simply because they can outrun and outsmart their predators, and have learned to hunt well for their own survival. Thus it should come as no surprise to any of us, that we humans must compete for our own survival, once we are old enough to take care of ourselves.
As with most lessons, I try to reflect back on my own experiences to share what I have learned regarding the many topics discussed in this Learning Life's Lessons series. Here's my take on the Reality of Competition. From a strictly selfish point of view, I believe many individuals may think that they should enjoy the easiest life possible, without having to work hard or compete for scarce resources. Don't ever be fooled into this losing proposition. While many business people may dream of having a monopoly on their products or services, in order to charge high prices for little value, this just isn't going to happen very often. Where there's opportunity, there's competition. And every competitor must find some distinctive edge they need to develop or acquire, in order to survive in the marketplace or in the world at large.
A discussion on competition can be very lengthy and cover sub-topics from A to Z and age groups ranging from pre-school to nursing homes. In this discussion we will just concentrate on the reality of why we must compete throughout our lives and recognize that we live in a world of limited resources. If we all sat around day in and day out and had just enough food and resources to survive, our world would deteriorate right before our eyes. Without competition, no one would have to innovate; stay healthy and fit to muster up the energy to compete; and learn new skills. Competition brings on progress and breakthroughs to create advantages for ourselves; our families; our companies; our countries and the world at large. Without competition no one would measure anything or keep score in order to improve. And while competition fosters both success and failure, it tends to move societies in a positive direction for future generations to enjoy.
From a very early age, I learned how to compete effectively in my own small sphere of influence. Since I'm the only one who I have complete control over in my life, I always believed that I had to work hard on myself first, to improve constantly. No one else was going to do this for me. Thus I had to take total responsibility for my time and my actions and make the very best of both. By doing so, I was facing the Reality of Competition, by preparing fully for the best possible outcome in any event or situation.
One of my passions in life is learning from other people's successes and failures. There are so many lessons to learn by reading about the success strategies of others as well as their blunders and mistakes. To learn from others is the equivalent to getting a furlough from the School of Hard Knocks; a place that I try to avoid at all costs.
Of course there are extremes and obsessions to all that is good in our world. Balance is always king in preparing yourself or your children for the competitive world we live in. One must always take into consideration the sacrifices and costs to bear, in order to be the absolute best in anything. For instance I have read about parents who hire intense coaches and start preparing their children for college boards when they are in pre-school. While this may produce an Ivy League student, there's no guarantee that this strategy will produce a happy loving child. The same goes for the intensity of very early training for actors; Olympians; or professional sports stars. There's a price to pay for becoming the absolute best in the world at anything; and often that price is very costly for the child growing up in such a competitive atmosphere.
Anyone who knows me will say that I do take competition very seriously and love to compete at altitudes above my own skill levels. I always found competition to be exciting and rewarding, as long as you play fairly. The winning at all costs mentality seems to be both unhealthy emotionally as well as dangerous for a civilized society. Being better trained; better prepared; more innovative; more creative; more committed; and more passionate are my tools of preference for competing. If I win with these tools, I can savor in a victory stemming from discipline rather than deceit.
Face the Reality of Competition sooner rather than later in life. Then prepare well; execute well; and enjoy competing!