John C. Maxwell the famous Leadership guru once said: ‘’There is nothing noble in being superior to someone else, progress is becoming superior to your previous self.’’
We always admire and get inspired by someone who has a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, make more money, or is hugely successful. Is it wrong to admire others? No! There is absolutely nothing wrong with admiring others or allowing someone to inspire you, but do this within the realization that there is a thin line between admiring others and comparing with others.
It’s indeed unfortunate that too often we fall into a trap of comparing ourselves to other people. I see this so often in Millennials as they continue to compare and compete with others their entire life. You may end up spending your whole life competing with others, trying to prove that you are somebody and still feel like nobody. Have you ever felt that? you don’t have to; you are created for a purpose; your life has meaning, and when you develop the self-confidence to follow your heart and your dreams, you stop competing with others and start competing with yourself to become your own best version of yourself.
Always remember, the real comparison we need to be doing is with who we were yesterday. Life is not a competition with others, but a competition with self. The real competition is YOU becoming a better version of yourself, a better employee, a better leader, a better spouse, a better parent, a better friend.
The person that you see daily in the mirror is the real competition.
The race of life has to be run, but there are only two scenarios:
- Run the rat race.
- Run your own race.
Now, it’s up to you to choose the option and also the pace with which you will run the race. Life is a race, but a race against oneself and not against anyone else. Run your own race and don’t forget to wish others well. There is no competition in destiny.
Continuing with the race analogy, let’s talk about the Olympics. Competitive fire has been appreciated for the success and glory of Olympic athletes. We are always in praise for great Olympic stars who achieved success and reached the top by racing someone else. Isn’t it? Let me try to counter this by talking about two miracle sportsmen the world has ever seen: – Michael Phelps, the “world’s fastest swimmer,” and Usain Bolt, the “world’s fastest runner,”.
Usain Bolt once said, “I can’t, I won’t compare myself with Michael Phelps, I’m on the track; he’s in the water. We can’t compare too much. He’s best in what he does”. But let’s compare them: –
Michael Phelps vs. Usain Bolt. It’s a rivalry we’ll never see in the pool or on the track,
One has the wingspan of a wandering albatross (bird with the biggest wingspan), the other has a stride of a racehorse.
The Sailfish (scientists consider the sailfish to be the fastest fish in the ocean) against the cheetah.
Michael Phelps, a giant, physically and metaphorically, in the world’s pools the most successful and most decorated Olympian of all times, with a total of 28 medals (including 23 Gold) in 5 Olympics.
Usain Bolt, a fabulous face of athletics on world tracks, the greatest sprinter of all time, with a total of 8 Gold medals in 3 Olympics.
If medal tally is the criteria, then there is a clear, hands-down winner: Michael Phelps. Do the math, and Phelps’ 23 gold medals easily dwarf’s the 8 gold medals Usain Bolt have won.
But let’s push the debate beyond the medal count and peep into a category where bolt outsmart Phelps and is a clear, hands-down winner and that’s personality and charisma. Usain bolt was an athlete with personality. He brought showmanship to the track and field events.
Crowds loved his passion, enthusiasm, confidence, and above all his lightning bolt stance post his victory. A great entertainer, forever seen laughing and celebrating. He connected with audiences like no athlete before. He added a new flair to celebrations. Nobody can match the way he would celebrate with the crowd. His charisma was infectious and the lightning bolt pose was one of the iconic poses the sporting world has ever seen.
Phelps made swimming a must-see sport at the Olympics and bolt made athletics a must-see event at the Olympics. In fact, just when people felt that the Olympics shine was waning as sport’s mecca, these megastars made them more magical than ever.
The final judgment: – Phelps is the Water Bolt; Bolt the land, Phelps.
The reality is that both have spent their Olympic careers racing more against themselves than the competition. Bolt became the world’s fastest runner by consistently breaking his own record not trying to break other people’s records, he eventually became the best. So does Michael Phelps. They knew they were their own competitor, so both were keen on breaking their own record. Self–competition: compete with only your past self. Take time to raise your game and improve yourself on a daily basis, because your only competition is you.
There is a famous wise proverb that says, “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
This is what Jay Z means when he raps, “I look in the mirror, my only opponent.” Make your past self your only competitor, and your future self the person you look up to. What is Healthy competition: – Competition with only one person: Yourself.
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” — Zen Shin This beautiful quote, is nature’s ultimate inspiration. A flower doesn’t care who is next to it. It only thinks and worries about its own blooming, realizing its ultimate purpose is to reach its full potential.
Make it a ritual, every night when you go to bed, Just, ask yourself, “Was I better today than I was yesterday?” or “Who am I becoming, and am I becoming someone who is better than I was yesterday?”
The day you will stop competing against yourself, believe me, you will set yourself free.