2007-10-19

Competition and Development

One of the things I learned from years of competitive swimming is the following: you should not compete against others. You should compete against yourself. If you are first place or fourth or last does not depend only on how you perform, but on the people who happen to compete at the same meeting. You have no control on the others' performance, so you can only attempt to improve your own time: compete against yourself.
This idea can be extended well beyond sport. It is senseless to compete at school, work, or within family. Simply because each person has different abilities. We all start with different genes, different contexts, different backgrounds. If I try to earn more money than somebody whose family has been rich for generations, I will only be disappointed. And the other way around: If I compare myself only with people with a less advantageous position, I will be fooling myself and will never progress. Compete against yourself: Just try to earn more money than before.
Just as it is unreasonable for an amateur jogger to beat a Kenyan in marathon (or a Kenyan taking pride in doing so), it is unreasonable to compare yourself with any other person. The only reasonable thing to do is to compare yourself with yourself: effort counts more than the outcome. The effort depends on you, the outcome not only...

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