Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Abolition of Competition

Look up the word “competition” and you might see the following definitions:

- The act of competing, as for profit or a prize; rivalry

- A test of skill or ability; a contest

- Rivalry between two or more businesses striving for the same customer or market

- Ecology The simultaneous demand by two or more organisms for limited environmental resources, such as nutrients, living space, or light

From Mother Nature’s point of view, the ecology definition makes a lot of sense. After all, isn’t survival of the fittest all about competition? The cave-stud who speared the most bison got the most fertile cave-babes. The plant that gets the most sun and water thrives. I understand competition for the sake of survival. But what about competition for the sake of keeping up with the Jones’s?

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with a little healthy competition to muster more mojo. Competing with yourself to measure your progress can be a great way to stay motivated and inspired. Learning how to lose can provide a valuable lesson as well… failure often teach us more than success does. And everyone needs to learn how to lose gracefully.

But when does competition become a sass-sucking scenario?

You know what I’m talking about. You know that dad at your kids baseball games who yells at his child whenever he makes a mistake, yells at the umpire whenever a call doesn’t go his way, and yells at the other parents for yelling at him. You know that co-worker in your office who takes credit for every good idea, knocks down any idea she didn’t think of, and talks nonstop about her grandiose ideas. And how about that neighbor who has the most expensive car, the brightest holiday decorations, and the landscaping that cost as much as a college education? Why do those people compete?

They compete to win. That’s it. They feel the need to beat everyone else because they don’t feel good about themselves otherwise. Winning is the only way they can feel okay in the world, and they will do anything to be sure everyone else knows that they are okay. But here’s the thing about that… they will never feel okay, no matter how many awards they win or accolades they receive, because mojo can only be found INSIDE ourselves. We can’t get it from our children’s athletic abilities, or our high-powered office jobs, or our Lamborghinis.

So here’s a good question to ask ourselves. What would we do if nobody was watching?

Picture this: Nobody can see your clothes. Nobody can see your car. Nobody can see your house. Nobody knows what you do for a living, how much money you make or donate to charity, or how smart your kids are.

Would you live your life any differently if the only person you had to impress was you?

Maybe you’d spend more time in your pajamas and spend less money on your car. Maybe you’d worry less about how your lawn looks and worry more about how your life feels. Maybe you’d go for a run just to feel the sunshine on your face and not to lose the extra jiggle in your legs. Maybe you’d find a career that energizes and empowers you instead of sticking with a job that stresses you out but impresses your neighbors. Maybe you’d spend time with your kids just to hear them roar with laughter instead of grooming them to be rule the world.

Perhaps we, as a society, should strive more for serenity and less for social status.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with nice clothes, nice cars, and big bucks, as long as you have those things because YOU really want them and not because you think others will be impressed by your importance.

There is always room to improve your groove and strive for success. Just keep in mind that success doesn’t necessarily mean being the best at everything. Success could mean having a loving family, a satisfying career, and a life lived with integrity. Success could mean sitting on your porch every evening to watch the sunset, making music, and smiling when you look in the mirror... regardless of what looks back at you. Sometimes contentment trumps competition.

The next time you’re unsure of your motivation for something, ask yourself this… How would you live if nobody was watching?


  1. LOVE it Ronni!
    I have always said I was a rich woman and it has nothing to do with the amount of "duckets" in my purse, or in my case the lack of! :)

  2. I have always found that letting people take credit they don't really deserve it a lot easier on my soul then fighting for recognition. I know it my heart that I was the one with the idea or completing the task etc, but sometimes it's a really difficult task to stifle blurting out the "truth". Don't get me wrong I will stick up for myself when absolutely necessary, but for the most part I am more content knowing that hopefully someday I will have made the world a better place.

  3. Beautifully said and truly inspiring!

  4. Some great observations here, Ronni.