Real vs. Imagined: Competition

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Competition is a great motivator of productivity and new discoveries. However, differentiation of competitors from comrades can often be more difficult than it appears at first blush.

One important aspect to elucidate to determine whether or not the goal you are pursuing is part of a zero sum game or if room for growth all around exists. Does you making a dollar mean another person losing a dollar? Or vice versa, does their success cost you an equal amount of success?

It often appears that as human beings we envision competition where there is none and assume a zero sum game when in reality the playing field can be widened allowing for success all around. One reason this seems to be the case is that it is easy to see those with whom we interact the most as the greatest problem. Researchers at the same institution see one another as competition instead of collaborators. Medical students, residents, or physicians see one another as challengers instead of fellow team members. Employees working on the same project see the success of fellow employees as detrimental to their own success instead of recognizing the success of the team. In everyday activities it is often helpful to carefully consider and identify the competition and recognize the collaborators. Often we limit ourselves by confusing collaborators with competition and lose out on valuable opportunities for mutual gain. From intellectual, industrial, technological, and economic standpoints our societies rely on expansion of what is not competition within. Therefore far more opportunities for collaboration exist than competition. Taking a moment to recognize and appreciate our collaborators can be instrumental in propelling our progress personally and societally. There are enough real competitors out there that we need not create imagined competition in our minds. 

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