Competition is a major part of our lives. It affects many of the decisions we make day after day, even when it doesn’t appear evident. We’re entertained by it in the sports world, but competition is not limited to sports. It helps us grow in our personal lives as well. It inspires us to make strides in our careers and commitments. As stated by Nancy Pearcy, “competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity”. However, competition can be unhealthy, and it takes conscious effort on our part to make sure it is not.
In sporting activities, there are bodies and regulations to ensure healthy contests. Though, we see discrepancies every now and then; this is solved by an ever evolving constitution to accommodate change and settle discord. Whereas, in our personal lives, we rarely admit that there are competitions, let alone having regulations. But, there are competitions everywhere and everytime, and there is the need to keep it healthy.
Right from childhood, siblings display the spirit of competitiveness in their relationships. When their parents help make it as healthy as possible, the children can enjoy a more rapid intellectual and creative growth; also equipping them for a more responsible future. Thus, it is imperative for parents to guide their kids through the dos and don’ts of healthy rivalry. It begins, naturally, with the parents showing no favouritism. This immediately teaches the children that they’re loved by both parents equally, and that they ought to show same kind of love to their siblings.
There is also a need to create a balance between the desire to win and the need to always play fair. It is true that every competition deserves a prize. But it is the process that matters most, and the growth that is experienced along the way. Therefore, parents ought to be able to communicate this to their children. This can easily be done by encouraging them all, without creating any conflicts.
I have used the relationship between siblings to paint what a healthy competition ought to look like. The reason is this: the rivalries of childhood go a long way in shaping our competitive spirits. Thus, we can help shape the spirit of our younger ones, and also use corrective lenses to view our own past as well. But, the guidelines don’t end in childhood. As stated earlier, competition drives us to achieve a lot in our adult life. In our career and personal commitments, competition is so valuable. But it is only so valuable when it is healthy.
One way to make sure our rivalry with others remain healthy is to focus on creating values. In our jobs, whether we are in the sciences or creative space, we should let the spirit of competition inspire us to provide value, and thereby advance our field or organization. This is what Edward de Bono means when he wrote: “companies that solely focus on competition will die. Those that focus on value creation will thrive”. What ever achievement or prize lie at the end of a competition depends on the value we bring to the table.
Furthermore, we ought to compete without craving so much validation and attention. Seeking attention or validation comes from a place of insecurity. This can impair our strengths. It can also cause us to be overly eager to win, without experiencing the growth that is available in the competition.
In conclusion, it is important to also remember that you will mostly compete with yourself in order to experience growth. Therefore, you need to be kind to yourself, even as you strive to become a better version of yourself.