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Life Is Not A Competition...
One day I was standing at the bus stop, waiting for one of my children to return home from school. I was thinking about concerns I had over the different ways I saw competition being a part of my life. The thought came to me, "Life is not a COMPETITION, Life is about helping and inspiring others so we can each reach our POTENTIAL." I thought it was such an important thought that I immediately typed it into my note app on my phone. Thank goodness for technology, right? That little thought has been on my mind a lot, I have pondered over those words and have come to some conclusions.
Competition is defined on dictionary.com as:
One thing I have pondered is, do the results of competition bring us happiness? To be on top, the best, the highest paid or the most prestigious might bring with it some benefits that resemble happiness. But, we also see some of the highest paid, "BEST" in their field people, who are so unhappy it is just sad. On the other hand I guarantee if you ask anyone who has helped to lift another, who has served another, who has celebrated another's success, they will tell you that, that is true happiness, the kind that lasts.
I recently, had two drastically different experiences with two of my children playing on two sport's teams. One was on a team where the coach, I believe had the desire to instruct the children, help them learn the sport and give each child the opportunity to participate and work together as a team to succeed. This team was fun to watch. The coach had prepared the team during practices, they knew what was expected of them individually as members of the team, they were continually instructed as they played their games, and when mistakes were made they were instructed on how they could improve. This team was successful, not because the teammates were competing against each other, or even the fact they were trying to be the best team, but rather they were working together, playing their individual position and playing the best they could, with continued instruction on how they could improve. This team got it, the focus was on elevating and encouraging each member of the team to reach their potential.
In contrast, my other son was on a team that I am sorry to say, but was frustrating for me to watch. The focus was more about winning or being better than their opponents, than it was on instructing and elevating each member of the team. There were a few players given attention at practices and games and they were the ones who ran the plays. The other players seemed to be dispensable. They had the potential to be great, but fell short because the focus was on winning, not on strengthening each player, and working together as a team. The importance of each team member was not emphasized. This team was not as successful, I do not think they looked like they were having as much fun, and for me they were not as enjoyable to watch. This team didn't get what the focus should be, they were too blinded by competition.
Why do I share this? For me it is an analogy of the difference between competition being the driving force, contrasted to elevating others to be the best they can be, armed with instruction and the knowledge they need. Do you see where I am going? If we live our lives looking for how we can get ahead of another, we are not going to be as successful or as happy as if we look for ways to lift others up with us as we try to reach our potential. We are all on the same team, we are not opponents.
As I was reading a talk given by President Ezra Taft Benson, during the April 1989 LDS General Conference, I came upon a quote:
"The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10.)" (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1989/04/beware-of-pride?lang=eng&query=competition)
I love this quote! What amazing counsel to follow, "It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone" (-C.S. Lewis) The key is to recognize our motives. Are our motives to be better than another, are we comparing ourselves with another? Or are our motives to help each other achieve our potential?