There are a lot of people that misunderstand what competition is all about; they don’t understand the right way to compete.
Competition is often seen as a fight for something that only certain people can have. There is a much better way to view it.
Competition vs. Cooperation
In my last post I detailed how cooperation trumps competition. Too often people let the fear of scarcity cloud their judgement; they focus on competing for limited resources instead of working together to create abundance.
Scarcity sees an apple tree, takes all the apples, and hordes them. A single person could not eat all the apples before they spoil. If the seeds are cast aside, only the single tree remains.
Abundance sees the same tree and sees hundreds of seeds. If the apples are shared and the seeds planted, there will be even more apples in the future.
Knowing the right way to compete is crucial. The wrong type of competition causes the scarcity it fears. Instead cooperation breathes life to abundance.
The Value of Competition
There is value in competition. We know that giving us a marker to perform against makes us perform better. As humans we work comparatively: we look at our success and measure it against something else to see how we’re doing. A professional runner is always comparing their time to try to shave off seconds and perform better.
If cooperation is better than competition, but competition has value, what is the right way to compete? We want to be at our best and perform at our best level. Knowing when to cooperate and when to compete is a huge part of making that happen.
The Right Way to Compete
When you want to enjoy some competition, there are three ways to compete that produce winners without creating losers:
- Compete for Fun: There is a lot to be said about just having fun. When there are no real stakes, the reward isn’t improvement, but laughter, enjoyment, and a great time.
- Compete to Better Yourself: The best way to compete is against yourself. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Don’t try to be better than the Joneses. Try to be better than the you of yesterday.
- Compete to Better Each Other: If you do compete with others, don’t make it a game of winners and losers. Instead, make it a way that you push each other forward to become better and to better handle life. When your competition doesn’t make it, encourage them. Highlight their positive approaches. Root for them next time. The benefit will be that you will have even better competition that pushes you to even better heights.
The right way to compete is simply to remove the idea of winners and losers. Instead, look at it from a growth perspective: when everyone grows, everyone wins. Competition shouldn’t be a fight for scarce resources, but a way to help each other be our best. It’s not only the right way to compete but it makes the competition that much more fun.