Two short stories you’ll probably relate to:
When I was in seventh grade I ran for class president. Not only did I lose but I was decimated, completely wiped out, and humiliated beyond words. Why didn’t an adult advise me that it’s not wise to move to a new city and run for election six weeks into the very first term at your new school? Ultimately, I decided I would never compete for anything again. This means I opted out of all competitive situations unless I was guaranteed to win; which was exactly never.
Several years ago I was invited to submit an application for a one-of-a-kind, life-changing organization, Count Me In. Their M3 Awards (Make Mine a Million) provide all sorts of amazing support and resources for women-owned businesses committed to growing their revenues to the million-dollar mark. There were twenty of us competing for 15 slots and I was sure this was a slam-dunk. It wasn’t. That day I apparently forgot who I was, what I stood for, the purpose of my business, and the goals I’d set for myself, my family, and my business. I might mention that I even forgot how to speak; quite the feat for a professional speaker and trainer. I was devastated even more than I was in seventh grade. Once again, I decided I would never compete for anything again.
Here’s where it gets very interesting….
I stayed true to those words until, a few years ago when I received an email from someone who is one of the best minds in online marketing and business strategy. She was having a summit and wanted to feature one ‘People’s Choice’ speaker; a person who is relatively unknown, and who would make a huge contribution to the Summit. She wanted to know if I had considered putting myself in the nomination process.
Let me say that, in the name of transparency, when I first heard about this event, I had two distinct thoughts: 1. “I will never compete for anything again.” 2. GO FOR IT!!
What did I do? I moved my doubt aside and enthusiastically set about asking my friends, colleagues, and clients to nominate me to speak. Really. And I’ve had so much fun!
A week or two into the ‘competition’ I was chugging along racking up my nominations, well ahead of the other nominees when, lo and behold, EVERYTHING dramatically changed. As, intuitively, I had known it would.
From out of nowhere another nominee flew ahead of me and left me in second place. It ‘ouched’ for a minute, and then a miracle happened. I had the most blindingly brilliant insight; the most delicious kind of wisdom regarding
THE TRUTH about COMPETITION.
There is none!
THERE IS NO COMPETITION, except for the perception we hold in our heads!! Yes, it’s time to rethink what we think about competition.
Here’s how I got there.
I allowed myself to forget about the so-called ‘competition’ for a moment, and focused solely on myself in relation to myself;
my best and highest contribution
the difference I was born to make
my life purpose
my gifts and talents
my path and my passion.
The instant I moved from ego to heart, from competition to contribution, from my ‘winning’ to wanting what would be for the best and highest good for ALL concerned, I was able to see that none of us truly have any competitive advantage over another.
Indeed, each and every one of us has a unique and divine path in life. To the extent that we focus on that path, is the extent to which we make a big difference in the world and have a positive impact. To the extent that we focus on others- who they are, what they’re doing, what they’re not doing, etc. – is the extent to which we take the focus off OUR PURPOSE, and diminish and dis-empower ourselves.
A conscious life, a powerful life, an authentic life, a meaningful life is about us staying true to ourselves; it’s about maximizing our potential and using everything we’re made of to live our purpose. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYONE ELSE.
This doesn’t mean that we should just ‘let things happen’. I’m not implying that we don’t exercise desire or effort. Quite the opposite.
This is an invitation for all of us to “be the best ‘me’ we can be.” The only problem with being on ‘top’ means that there’s someone left on the ‘bottom.’ If they’re on the bottom because that will serve them, then that’s terrific. If, however, we deliberately put them on the bottom, then we need to rethink who we are.
When we focus on giving every situation the best of ourselves, then no one is truly in second or third place because we’re all exactly where we need to be.
Here are a few crucial questions to ask yourself about YOUR life every time you find yourself in a situation where you feel as though you’re in a competition with someone; a lover, a job, a business, money, relationship, etc. If you’re feeling ‘not as good as’, or ‘not enough’, or ‘left behind’ or _______ then you’re competing with other people, which means you’re not focused on making a contribution, you’re focused on ‘looking good.’
Would it serve my best and highest good to _____________?
Am I seeking this ________________because I want to make a contribution, or because I merely want to win?
Did I want to ________________or did I want to prevent someone else from doing the same thing?
Did I want to ‘win’ this ______________or did I want to ‘not lose?’
If I weren’t focusing on how the outcome of this situation would look to others, what would I do?
I’d love to hear from you! How do you feel about competition? What’s your take on the idea that there really isn't any competition?
Please share in the comment section below — we’d love to learn from you.
Nancy D. Solomon, MA Psych is the CEO and Founder of The Leadership Incubator where she helps leaders identify, address, and resolve people's problems before they become profit problems so everyone can focus on what they were hired to do-- INNOVATE AND DRIVE GROWTH.
Known as The Impact Expert, she is the main stage speaker, expert trainer, and veteran coach who helps leaders solve key issues related to leadership development, employee engagement, and advancing women.
Nancy has made a difference for such companies as Microsoft, Target, Acura, Westin, Nordstrom & ADP as well as with many passionate individuals.