On Competition

Competition is good…or is it? When does competition become good? I mean, Is it always good and healthy to compete?

Though I grew up as a more cooperative person than a competitive one, I still somehow learned to be competitive sometimes. I probably developed my competitive attitude from my childhood involvement in sports. But that mindset is somewhat carried outside the sports arena to the different aspects of my life.


That inclination is a servant of pride, I propose. Pride found a way. It uses that competitive mentality developed in sports, and then brought it outside to other areas of our life. Perhaps that’s why we see people everyday competing with one another. They compete, in beauty, in talents, skills, positions, in popularity, even in relationships. You name it, in most areas of life people compete with each other. Why?

People naturally crave for recognition, for appreciation and acceptance. These feelings—of being recognized, appreciated and accepted—feeds our self-worth. It feeds our ego, our pride. Because our society has managed to create a culture that only the winners are recognized, appreciated and rewarded, we become competitive. We learned very early in life that if we are not better than others, we will not be easily accepted.

People have so embraced the idea of competition and forgot that in our daily life, in most of our daily activities, what we need is to cooperate and not to compete. Why? Maybe because we want to be accepted. We want to belong. We think that to win is the only way to be cheerfully welcomed. So we compete to win.

Win-lose Attitude

In all competitions, the lingering attitude is win-lose attitude. If one has to win, the others have to lose. In chess, in football, in all other sports, win-lose attitude is the only acceptable attitude. You cannot think win-win or there will be a tie. You can never think lose-win: why in the first place did you join the competition if you prefer to lose in order for your opponent to win?

How about in beauty pageant? Isn’t It the same, all other contestants have to lose so the best is the only one to be crowned?

Let’s take a look at the school. Can you say you passed the subject if you know nobody is failing the subject? You become number one only because others are not number one. You win only because they lose.

Players compete for the trophies; contestants for the medals and recognition. Churches compete each other in terms of the volume of their members; business organizations with income and market share; celebrities and politicians for their popularity; speakers in their audience; writers compete through their published materials; bloggers with the number of their followers and hits; co-employees in terms of the favors they receive from their bosses.

Even brothers and sisters compete for their mother’s attention. The list goes on and on in an almost never-ending possibilities. One thing is sure: we always compete. We develop win-lose attitude because we have a scarcity mentality. We think that recognition is scarce—that only a few will be crowned. But we, as a society are the very ones who created the idea that only the best will be recognized. We become afraid of our own shadow.


Why do we compete too much? Maybe one reason is survival. But wait, isn’t it that people will have greater chance of survival when they cooperate instead of compete?

Survival may have a point of argument. Two people starving to death will surely compete for a piece of bread or for a few drops of water, otherwise, they both die. Granted. Well, that maybe accepted if the case is a matter of life and death. But in the office, at home, in school, most of our situations are not a matter of life-and-death situation. Then why do we compete? Why do we always want to be ahead of others?

When then?

I believe competition is good and healthy if and only if we can keep it inside its appropriate venue. In sports and entertainment, competition is healthy and fun. It helps the players to be responsible for their development. But in the office, in the church, in school, it becomes ineffective, counterproductive, sometimes even dangerous.

In most cases in our daily living, to cooperate is more needed and more appropriate than to compete. Let us keep competition within the boundaries of sports, and within the confines of the entertainment world.

We really want to compete? Try the following mentality and we will never run out of worthwhile competitions:

If I can defeat others, I am strong; if I can defeat myself, I am stronger.

Why is that?

Because the greatest battle we can ever have is within.

Arouse in them them an eager want

On January this year, I began sharing with you some Droplets of profound paradigms from the book of Dale Carnegie: How To Win Friends And Influence People.

So, I started on January 25 with Chapter 1, sharing some universal, timeless, and obvious principles of human interaction. In 12 droplets, we have learned that sharp uncalled for criticisms and verbal attacks to other people are simply and obviously incapable of producing any useful results. Verbal attacks are blatantly futile.

Fourteen excerpts from Chapter 2 followed next. If chapter one tells us what to avoid—sharp criticism of other people; chapter two tells us what to do instead. Instead of criticizing others, let’s learn to appreciate. All people have strengths and weakness. So instead of highlighting other people’s weaknesses and faults, why not highlight their strengths by praising them?

In this next wave of universal, timeless, and obvious Droplets of principles, I will be posting 6 excerpts from Chapter 3. This time the focus is no longer on what we need to avoid or what we need to do; the focus now is on what we want other people do because of what we have avoided and what we have chosen to do.

This is about how other people respond to our way of dealing with them. We want to stir their positive emotion and arouse in them an eager want. The question is, how are we going to that?