Competing with the Self

Whenever I raise my aversion to competition and the incessant promotion of its so-called virtues, such as being healthy for society, I am somewhat bemused by the general response advocating that it’s an essential precursor to motivation.

To achieve success motivated by competition, we have to compare, calculate and outsmart the other. So winning, in these terms, means being better than the other. And that brings temporary elation followed by daily anxiety as we strive to sustain our status rankings in each new pursuit.

So what’s the alternative for keeping motivation alive and well? – Looking within for that true stoker of our internal fire, passion. Hard work is still part of the equation, but doing something for the joy of doing it provides the strongest form of motivation and an evergreen sense of contentment, making comparison with others pale in significance.

If we constantly worry about how others will perform, we weaken the energy and focus on our own abilities.

The power of peace replaces worry when you fully understand and accept that you can only be the best that you can be.

Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, Professor of Psychology at Washington University, Seattle, has an insightful theory on life which she calls the sperm theory of life – “All sperm swim, but only one fertilizes the egg. In life it’s unreasonable to expect to be that one. You can demand only that you swim to the best of your ability.”

And to that I add, enjoy the journey!