We often hear that competition brings out the best in people. Yet we could also say that it brings out the worst. The mindset of scarcity says that we should hang on to what we’ve got and hoard our knowledge, our money, our assets and our glory.
Yes the ego is a useful tool when it is healthy. We challenge ourselves and each other to go beyond previous limits. Yet in competitive environments it can very quickly turn toxic. The mentality of “I’m great, and you’re not” is still prevalent in workplaces and is a quicksand that is difficult to escape.Many companies still operate on the principle that it is healthy for employees to compete with each other. This is an assumption that should be questioned because it implies that there must be winners and losers in the game of life.
Some would say that this is just ‘reality’ or ‘the way it has always been’ or worse, ‘human nature’. Yet some of us would prefer to live from the position that this is a false assumption. A healthy ego does not require the experience of victory over others in order to be validated. The only victory to be sought is over one’s own limitations, which includes the desire to appear superior.
The victory we could all be seeking is one of successfully sharing our highest attributes. Of giving the best of ourselves in whatever purpose we choose. In breaking free from the constraints we have accepted. In overcoming the chronic problems that have plagued humanity for centuries such as poverty, disease and lack. Finding solutions to the unlimited problems all around us are the real worthy opponents we could be taking on.
In education, competitive sports should be viewed as a practice run for these real issues that we all face. Yet somewhere things have become skewed, and ‘winning’, which is actually an illusion has become an end in itself.
It takes a real effort to go to the next level and see that the real victory that we need to focus on is overcoming our own limiting delusions and that in the end, our so-called victories over others are of no real consequence, no matter how seductive they appear.