Do you believe in a healthy dose of competition? In economics class, I learned about a prosperous economic state called “perfect competition”. Today, I find myself in a state of perfect lack of competition, and it might be much more prosperous…
Competition encourages a phenomenon called ‘ego involvement’. I learned this recently from a man called Edward Deci, in his book Why We Do What We Do. It’s where your feeling of worth is derived from a specific, extrinsic outcome, perhaps winning a competition or being awarded a bonus, or winning praise (typically, like these examples, the result is only temporary).
I grew up in an industry prone to ego involvement. When I look back on that time, I can see several things:
1. People’s attitude towards me was pretty contingent on my competitive performance, and so I would sometimes find myself linking my sense of worth to how much I was pleasing people
2. I was prone to shallowness in the way I approached problems, probably because I tended to closely compare myself to others, and thus surrender to conformity
3. There were lots of people around to conveniently blame for things being wrong, which diminished my sense of responsibility
4. I could be a right miserable git
Right now I find I have no-one to compete with, nothing to compete for; only the urge to test myself and improve, and have fun in the process. And in the quest to create something that feels meaningful, there are instead lots of likeminded people to collaborate with (and useful connectaroos to enjoy).
This environment is highly rewarding and gives a more stable kind of self-esteem, as it is not decided by other people. It allows a more creative approach to important matters, such as what you really want from life, and how you go about it.
It strikes me that finding a better way to spend my time will be achieved through resisting the urge to compare and compete, and relying more on my own judgment on what to do and how well I’m doing it.