There is nothing like healthy competition to put a shine on your face. Imagine winning an Olympic Gold that marks you out as the man or woman who has achieved as much, if not more, in your chosen field than any other human in the world! Such heights are only scaled by those who are willing to push through the pain barrier and pull every last ounce of energy and determination from mind and body.
Competition is key here and a very good thing it is too. It is what drives us to go to those lengths just to shave off that vital hundredth of a second that will put us ahead of our nearest competitor. Indeed, a single nano-second can mark the difference between failure and the making of our reputation
as a world-class athlete, with all the wealth from sponsorships and endorsements that comes with it.
Without being egged on by the burning desire to compete, we may never summon the willpower necessary to achieve our goal.
At a more micro level, competition is also a a good thing in the classroom. It spurs us on to come top of the class, and that achievement should be acknowledged. Conversely, someone also has to come bottom and that’s tough, but Life is tough and coming bottom is the best possible preparation for life. Failure is something we must face up to, and not hide behind a Z pass! In seeking to protect us from Life’s pain, the politically correct do us no favours. They take offence so easily, you could knock them down with a feather.
You also get competition between siblings, which, when abused, can be catastrophic. In beating his mentor and older brother to the post, Foreign Secretary Ed Miliband effectively prevented David from becoming Prime Minister. In the event, this naked abuse of competition resulted in both brothers forfeiting the chance of leading their country away from disaster, if not to the sunlit uplands…
Parents, too, can fall out when tradition is abused, as with the British royal family. Unlike his elder brother, Prince Harry chose to defy two millennia of history and his father’s clear wish for him to remain a working royal. Prince Andrew similarly behaved in a way that was wholly incompatible with his royal status as the King’s brother.
We also find this in the workplace, where senior employees habitually brief against their boss in the name of competition and promotion. As for politics, ministers brief against each other as if there were no tomorrow.
I like to compare competition with a sharp razor. We can either benefit from using it to shave or we can weaponise it and use it to cut someone's throat. Likewise with competition. On the one hand, healthy competition can drive us to achieve more than we thought possible and inspire us to realise our full potential.
However, when competition becomes unhealthy, it can lead to negative behaviours such as cheating, backstabbing, and a lack of sportsmanship. Those who compete against us should always have our respect and be congratulated when, despite our best efforts, they get there first. Unlike despots, we don’t normally kill our rivals, despite the few professional hitmen around, who make an obscenely good living from their bloody work!
Being self-competitive means competing with oneself; it involves setting personal goals and pushing oneself to achieve them, rather than focusing on outperforming others. This can lead to great results,
as self-development and achieving one’s full potential becomes more likely. Self-competition eliminates the negative aspects of competing against others, such as envy and resentment, and instead focuses on personal growth and self-improvement.
Hard though it is to balance our private interest with the public good, it must be done if we are to continue living in a democracy. Modern society has a horrible way of putting its ‘me-first culture’ before anything else. Politicians especially must bite the bullet and begin putting the public interest first – yes, even at the cost of losing their seats.
Sportsmanship is the best antidote to such abuse. If we stay cool and don't fixate on success at any price, we'll enjoy, and not forfeit, the respect, and even the love, of our friends.
So make sure you use your razor wisely!