Thursday, April 14, 2011

Does the C-word bring out the best or the worst in you?

I recently responded to a question in a discussion forum relating to that C-word.  You know, the one that's known to bring out the best in some and the worst in others while leaving the majority clueless, indifferent or vicarious wannabe-s.  I'm talking about Competition.

Yes, it's something that I can't claim to have had a good relationship with.  Matter of fact, I've pretty much excluded it from my vocabulary except when explaining why, of course :).  However, I'm interested to know how you feel about competition. 

Let's face it, governments and businesses claim that the economy would suffer to the point of extinction without it.  And, truth be told, I am probably complicit in the survival of competition.  I mean, I do tend to shop where I believe things are cheapest.  Go on, call me a hypocrite.

But perhaps it's not quite as it seems?  You see, I shop where it's cheapest for these reasons:

1.  That's pretty much what I can afford
2.  That's pretty much what I'm willing to pay
3.  I don't believe that I should pay any more and we wouldn't have to if most businesses weren't out to make a profit (and please read *profit* in terms of consumer demand as well as the supply of resources - people and other- from a position of disadvantage).

So, am I really complicit?  Perhaps. 

I'm deliberately ambivalent here because, as I see it,  my intention is not to help put anyone out of business.  On the contrary, I can see that often, it helps the biggest profit-makers make even more profit since they are the ones who can afford to sell at the lower/more *competitive* prices.

Effectively, I gain wrt my immediate needs and desires but not wrt my broader, more humanitarian aspirations. 

I suppose I could raise a similar (and equally unconvincing) argument with respect to voting in governments who take their countries to war.  I don't want to go to war but it's part of the total election package, which overall, provides me with more benefits than losses .  It's too bad about the war thing. which, of course, I don't support.  Besides, I wouldn't give my vote to any of the other contenders...

Oh, look, I'm veering well off the topic of competition but I just thought I'd mention that war point since I talked about complicity (another C-word, in case you hadn't noticed :)).

Anyways, back to Competition.  Aside from the competition in the so-called *free* market, there are many other instances of competition.  Like I said earlier, even though I may be inadvertently complicit, I don't enjoy a very good relationship with Competition.  Here's why as I explained in my response at the discussion forum to a question about the 'ups and downs of competition':

The only logical reason I would have for entering a competition is to win. This effectively means that I need to do better than everyone else who enters that competition, however *better* is defined. It puts me right off.

I begin to feel anxious and my confidence and interest rapidly decline as I am certain that even though I would be doing my best, there could always be someone else who is *better*. That someone will win and I will not. All my effort and achievement will pale into insignificance in the blinding light of someone else's achievement. It's not a nice feeling at all.

To compete means to try and outdo others. I haven't yet found this a joyous thing.

Why do we have to try and outdo others? I guess for some people it may be an effective way to bring out the *best* in them. So far, it hasn't done this for me.

For me, my best is not a one-dimensional achievement but something that impacts on several aspects of my life in a holistic sort of way. It results in a sense of fulfillment that transcends my personal wellbeing and joy to the wellbeing and joy of others.

You could say that I feel I'm doing my best when what I do has a positive impact on myself as well as on others. In other words, I feel I'm doing my best when I'm contributing with harmony and joy. My experience of competitions to date has rarely been anchored in harmony and joy.

If, however, my motivation for doing something is to see how far I can go regardless of how far others have gone or may go, then I believe that I can (and do) do this without having to compete. I'm always *challenging* (I prefer *inviting* and *inspiring*) myself everyday in little ways. I am also inspired by others, including children. To respond from inspiration is a much kinder and loving way to treat myself and it allows me to enjoy the flow-on effects on others.

If, on the other hand, competition actually means *inspiration* then, hey, I'll be first in line (how's that for a bit of good ol' pushin' and shovin' :)) 

What are your thoughts?  I promise I won't be rewarding winners and punishing losers :)

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