We all love a good competition. It’s human nature.
Whether it’s for sporting fun or serious for a big payoff, we love competition as a society, as a culture. Going back to our ancestors, competitions have been a part of our civilization.
It isn’t surprising that we find the concept so intriguing and invigorating.
Competing pulls out a spirit within us that generates a higher level of performance and pressure and drive to achieve.
Our species has survived and evolved because of competition – and thrives on it in many ways.
But is life just about competing? What about cooperating?
Competition. It’s All Around Us.
What defines competition?
Competition is a situation in which two or more people or groups try to get something that not everyone can have.
For example, a competitive event is a contest in which many people take part to find out who is the best at a particular activity. Competing against each other, each one strives for the prize, usually a trophy or cash reward.
This competing creates a rival for supremacy. It’s a contest for honor, or advantage.
Biologists refine the definition of competition found in nature into two types: interference and exploitative competition
During interference competition:
- organisms interact directly by fighting for scarce resources
Exploitative competition is:
- an indirect competition for resources
Science further narrows the competition types:
Intraspecific competition is a form of competition between members of the same species.
Here’s a common example: trees that grow close together in a forest vie for sunlight and soil nutrients.
In nature, competition is a negative interaction that occurs when two or more organisms require the same limited resource. For example, animals require food and water, whereas plants require soil nutrients. All animal life is competing for a limited supply and all vegetation is similarly competing for its basic needs.
There is a great deal of competition in nature. Because humans are a social species, scientists state that that they rely on cooperation to survive and thrive.
Humans Thrive on Cooperation
Scientific research shows us how our cooperative behaviors have helped our species survive, thrive, and evolve.
Many species function and perform successfully through cooperation, such as bees and ants. It’s not surprising that humans thrive on cooperation as well.
Whether it’s routine day-to-day tasks, great accomplishments, or dealing with challenges ahead, humans achieve best through cooperation. Leveraging the value of relationships, shared risks and trusting partnerships, a great deal more is gained through cooperation than the risks for the individual person or group.
If scientific research supports the value of cooperation, what is the value of competition?
Competition or Cooperation?
I am a big proponent of cooperation and collaboration for the greater good of the group.
My motto is:
- people first
- relationships are key
- listening and authentic communication is always necessary
Yet that innate competitive spirit still lives strongly inside of us. I know I have it and I know you do, too.
Here is my approach:
Competition: It’s a positive innate function that we possess to serve us to evolve and improve as a species to make us better every day. Without it, how would we move forward as a society and as a planet properly? Find and appreciate the value that it brings to all of us and to yourself.
Cooperation and collaboration: They make teams and organizations better. Building trust, leveraging risk, and forging partnerships that serve the greater good, whether used competitively or not, have tremendous value, and should not be overlooked or undervalued.
Bottom line: Never underestimate the value of a strong, united team.
Who is Your Biggest Competitor? You Are.
Recognize that your biggest competitor is yourself.
It’s a lot easier pointing out the faults and the imperfections and faults of others. The real work is measuring and assessing ourselves instead.
Measuring yourself and comparing your own performance, abilities and talents is much more difficult to face. Even more challenging work is recognizing the good and the bad.
Look in the mirror. You are your biggest competitor. Ask yourself:
- Who was I one year ago? What was I doing? What did I think and believe?
- Who am I today? What am I doing? What do I think and believe?
- Who will I be one year from now? What will I be doing? What do I want to think and believe?
The best of both worlds is knowing that we can acknowledge both: who we were and who we are – appreciate the value of each.
When we can look at ourselves, we can truly become competitive within ourselves to be different than we were yesterday and to be even different tomorrow. Not better, nor worse, but evolving and changing in the ways we decide. The opportunity we create for ourselves and as a contributor to the world is much greater when we embrace the value of each.
“If you compete with others, you may not win. If you compete with yourself, you always win by becoming better.”– Debasish Mridha
Be You. The Best You.
Becoming the highest version of who we are capable of being is the goal.
It is what nature intends for each of us. We don’t need to be a different person or more like another person.
We need to live up to and IN to exactly who and what we were intended to offer and bring to this life for the brief time that we have to bring it and become it.
Finding that within ourselves and living into it more and more every day is the meaning of life.
It encompasses everything: our gifts, strengths and abilities, acceptance, love, and relationships. It allows us to live into the most joyful and happy beings on earth and it requires us to live up to our best through the most tragic things on the earth.
When we show up each day, bringing a more evolved version of ourselves than we did yesterday, we are doing exactly what we were intended to do, living our exact purpose, and meaning for being here.
Let’s all look at ourselves each day to make a conscious and deliberate decision for who we are going to be and what we will be contributing to the world around us, no matter how small that may be.
When we can all do that, cooperatively, just imagine what our families and relationships could be, what our businesses and organizations could be, and all that the species and our entire planet could be.
Let’s all do it. For ourselves and everyone else.
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