March 17     

Today's quotation:

Competition, founded upon the conflicting interests of individuals, is in reality far less productive of wealth and enterprise than co-operation, involving though it does the constant apparent sacrifice of the individual to the common interests.

Robert Hugh Benson

Today's Meditation:

I used to buy into the idea of just how important competition is, but I've seen enough people turn it into a destructive thing that I no longer see it as being so important.  Healthy competition can help us to grow and become stronger and even better people, but it seems that in our society today, we put far too much emphasis on competition and far too little emphasis on cooperation.  We see this especially in the political world, where everything is competition with the "other party" and almost no energy is dedicated to cooperating with others in order to serve the public more effectively.

I like competition when I'm running.  It helps me to run faster, and the thought of upcoming competition helps me to push harder when I'm training.  Once the competition is over, though, I honestly don't care how I did when compared to other people--I did my best within my current circumstances, and that's fine.  I've coached far too many athletes, though, who allow their self-worth to be tied up in how they fare in competitive circumstances, and that's truly a destructive way of looking at competition.  I always remind myself that the people I'm competing against also have been working hard to get better at what they do, so they deserve whatever results they get.

Running, though, is different than the workplace, business, or politics.  In these fields, competition is basically about customers and profits and "power"--simply getting the money from those customers or winning an election or passing a bill.  Rarely these days do we see people in these fields cooperating together to achieve something truly extraordinary, and that's one reason why our world of today is awash in mediocrity.  We even teach students to compete with each other to be valedictorian and to get into certain colleges, rather than teaching them to cooperate with each other in order to become much better at all that they're learning.

When we cooperate, there's almost no limit to our possibilities when we dedicate our minds and abilities to working together with others.  In competition, there always have to be losers.  When we cooperate, though, we can make sure that there are no losers, just other people who share in the success.

Questions to consider:

Why is competition and the idea of "beating" other people so important?

What are some of the benefits of cooperation?

How might we help ourselves to learn to cooperate rather than compete?

For further thought:

There is competition, but it is used in a good way.  It is positive to want to go first, provided the intention is to pave the way for others, make their path more easy, help them, or show the way.  Competition is negative when we wish to defeat others, to bring them down in order to lift ourselves up.

The Dalai Lama

more on competition



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