What do you call a non-competitive person? A loser, that’s what! Visualise a loser right now. Your neighbour. Your cousin. Your co-worker. Going nowhere with their life. They gave up on themselves a long time ago. No desire to get better. Johnny hasn’t had a job in over 5 years, he still lives at home and he’s nearly 40. Natalie is in that same sales position that she hates, still complaining about her boring boyfriend for over 8 years. Name that person in your life. Ben Loafer. You’re better than Loafer. Or do you just think that you’re better?
This is how we’ve come to think. A narrative that’s only getting stronger with current culture, so let’s look at the idea of competition and how to avoid the ‘loser’ trap.
First misconception: Its about others
Competition isn’t about other people, it’s about you. You’re competing against yourself. You owe it to yourself to be your best. To have the best. What do you want written on your tombstone? “Tried some days and wasn’t shy of comfort!” But to be the best, you have to develop a competitive nature.
It’s often said that everyones competitive but the truth is more like no-one likes to lose. These are different. Loss aversion is the tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. So when we think of ‘losers’ we think of what we don’t want to become. Instead of thinking about losing, think about ways in which you can compete.
Misconception 2: It’s a zero sum game
Just because you have a great life, doesn’t mean that Bob has a shit one. There aren’t a finite number of best lives. They don’t sell out.
Now, come up with a list of reasons why you don’t deserve to have the best version of your own life. There are few, if any reasons why you don’t deserve to have your best life (except that you’re a mass murderer and are finally coming to terms with karma.)
Is the life you’re living, the best version you can imagine your life? What would make it better? Ultimately it comes down to your imagination and opinion. If you can’t imagine a better life, it’s either perfect or you don’t yet realise what it could be. If you can, note the areas for improvement.
Misconception 3: Theres a single formula for success
It’s difficult to be the best and it’s unrelenting. No resting, no coasting. Always looking towards the future. Tomorrow, next week, next year. The game doesn’t end until you die and you have to stay in the game to be able to compete.
I struggle with ‘competition.’ I always thought this was as a result of laziness but I see it more as a lack of self-confidence when I was younger and being an ‘outsider.’ To combat that I have to discipline myself to do the things I don’t feel like doing.
I think about my loser Ben Loafer, what would he do? Slouch lazily in his chair, only engaging in the conversations that are easy.
Misconception 4: you must always win
Learn how to lose. Don’t be angry but review your strategy. Focus on the outcome and the process. What could I have done differently? Focus on winning the war even if you lose a few battles along the way. Losers think they have to win every battle, they don’t care how they performed.
Differentiate yourself. Talent stacking is combining skills that give you a way to succeed in a crowded field of competitors. I may not be the best technical audio engineer but I can make people feel good which helps boost their performance. This makes the performer feel that I’m a great monitor engineer because part of the performance is in the feel.
Misconception 5: EXCUSE your failures
Never make excuses. Only think about how you performing better moving forward. Take complete responsibility for your position. That’s what it is, a position. The moves you make in a game of chess lead you to a position.
Being the best requires attention to detail. You must determine what the ‘best’ looks like, whether that’s measured in the amount of free time you have or the number of luxury cars. Be competitive with yourself.
Misconception 6: Keep doing the same things
To make a muscle grow, you must provide it with a stimulus it’s never had before. Either a different movement, more weight or more repetitions. To find success in a new career you must try things you’ve never done before. Practice giving 110%. Testing your limits. Find that point where you get out of breath when cycling to work and go 10 seconds more. Repeat this enough times and the results will compound.
Are you competitive? Are you your best? Who’s looking at you thinking you’re the loser? No one is born a loser, losers are created. They allow circumstances to define their future. Losers spend too much time being annoyed by the problem and not in finding the solution. Don’t let that be you. Now become your best, each and every day.