If you missed Part 1, you can read it here
Competition….that’s one word that gets some of us excited, and others feel too pious to participate in it. More often than not, we have a very negative view of what competition really is, and given the many ways in which people trample on others to get to the top, competition is not entirely a favourite word for most of us.
I started to view competition differently after I worked in a laboratory for a few months. Not to brag, but I studied at two of the top universities in Africa, and perhaps the world. When I started work at this laboratory, everyone was stuck in a rot. They were dissatisfied with the working conditions, they complained bitterly, endlessly, yet none of them did anything about it. Worse still, they were content with just being there, doing the same things over and over, and not really learning anything new or moving to a new level. Coming from highly competitive environments, my complaints were more inclined towards a lack of encouragement and self-improvement. My colleagues were surprised that was my only agony; I wasn’t complaining about the pay or the hours, but more about the fact that I had no room to develop myself. If I stayed in that environment, I was going to remain a subordinate forever, and there was no way I was going to do that, so I quit. I walked away without blinking because I understood the importance of competition.
To compete with oneself is not enough; if it was simply a matter of competing with myself, I would have been stuck in a rot. Self-motivation as important as it is, is not the best form of motivation. We need external incentives to push us further, and push us to be better. I got my external incentives from the universities I studied at… where getting a distinction was a norm, and where it was expected of every individual to develop themselves beyond their degree of study. For goodness sake, we were made to pitch business ideas against one another in our final year to make us understand entrepreneurship and competition.
I got a different view of competition after that business pitch. I understood its importance. Many of us keep doing the same old things with no intention of reinventing ourselves because we do not have any external challenges. It is very important to keep in mind that getting comfortable with mediocrity when you are self-motivated is the easiest thing to do. To aspire to be better than someone else not because you feel threatened by their success or feel you need to avenge some hurtful words they may have uttered about you is healthy competition. Competing because you are bitter and in dire need to prove a point is the type of competition we need to avoid.
Competition is one of the many keys to success. It is a source of drive, a source of much-needed external motivation. In life, we belong to three groups: those who see the success of others as motivation to reinvent themselves and become successful, those who spite the success of others and seek to pull them down with words or actions and those who simply do nothing, and subsequently become nothing. XOXO.
Demilade Fayemiwo is a scientist-turned-engineer, life coach (in training), writer, and as her friends call her, “blogger extraordinaire”.
She is a contributor on Musings of An Analytical Mind.