• Riitta

Dealing with competition in a different way

What makes us compete with each other?

We compare and contrast ourselves with other people to get to know ourselves: how I am similar or dissimilar to you. Unfortunately we so often see and react to the dissimilarities in a totally wrong way.

When I realize that I am different from you, I notice certain inner and outer strengths and weaknesses in you, and interpret your strengths to be something I'm lacking: something you have and I don't. And that's where our problems start, problems which have an effect on every area of our lives. We start competing for superiority and acceptance.

This competition starts already at an early age. When we are children we are told: 'See how well Alice behaves and how clever she is. You should try to be like Alice'. In school we are put in a competitive position by assessing our skills and knowledge: how well we have learned to assimilate the information exactly the same way as others, with exactly the same formula. Our school report grades have been created to tell us how well or poorly we did in this competition. Our superiority is assessed and we are labeled as winners, mediocre or losers.

The core of this problem - which can effect our relationships, work, our business etc. - is that we try to be either similar or even better than someone else: someone who is respected, admired, successful. Someone who is endorsed because of certain qualities, the strengths which that person inherently has. Inner or outer ones.

When we move into working life, this problem grows and changes. Instead of working together, pulling in the same direction, taking care of our responsibilities (to which we have committed by signing our contract of employment), complementing a diversity of people with individual skills and expertise - we compete with each other mercilessly. The end result can never be the success of the company nor our own success, as the real cause of mutual competition is the pursuit of self-interest: to prop up our ego, obtaining approval, being superior to others.

This is partially supported by the personal objectives companies set for their employees, if these objectives are not set in a right way but they support the existence of a competitive playing field. We compete for fame, glory, acceptance and money - and by doing that we override both our own and the company's real opportunities to succeed.

Trying to respond to and beat the competition as an entrepreneur will move our focus from ourselves and our business to competitors and will be very toxic to the success of our business.

The whole idea of trying to adopt or defeat other's strengths and ways to do things is absurd. Instead of trying to do so we need to understand and respect the fact that we all have our own individual, unique strengths - inner and outer ones - for a reason. We are meant to experience ourselves - and also allow others to experience us - expressing them, both in our private as well as in our professional life.

We also need to accept people as they are, including ourselves. We are not, we cannot be, and are not meant to be similar or compete with each other, but to accept both ourselves and others just as we are and to see each human being as the unique, important part of the whole: how we all complement and complete each other in our world.

Trying to mold ourselves (or our business) according to what kind of successful people (or "competitive" business) we meet, know or hear of is destructive: it's an endless number of intersections with all those roads ending to a dead end. Because we will come across an endless number of new people having qualities and strengths which will trigger the need to compete in us: to be similar or better than those people.

We are not meant to have similar inner or outer qualities; strengths and talents. We are meant to complement each other and our world with our individual uniqueness. Each one of us is an important, individual, unique piece of the whole picture. We all can have the perfect relationship, the perfect work, and we all have the possibility to create all the things in our lives that we want - but it is possible only when we use and respect our own individual, unique strengths and talents. Your ideal life or career cannot be built trying to copy or outdo someone else but only being who you truly are. So seek for inspiration inside yourself and avoid comparing yourself with others.

I remember so well how I felt and reacted when my mentor Andrrea Hess first told me about my strengths... "Oh no... something is not quite right... I can see myself being more of this than that...." I still laugh out loud every time I recall my reaction. I had a very clear image of the qualities I wanted to have. The ones I had seen and experienced in others, in people I admired and so which I also wanted to have. But when I accepted and embraced my individuality, when I understood how the most inner me never needs to compete with others because we all already are perfect in our own way and able to achieve anything we want - everything in my life changed.

As Steve Jobs once said: "You can't look at the competition and say you're going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you're going to do it differently".

So let's not try to be "an improved version" of someone else, when you can be the best version of who you are - purposefully.

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