We often point to competition as a tool to bring out the best in people. ...
The problem with competition is that it takes away the requirement to set your own path, to invent your own method, to find a new way. ...
Competing with yourself is more difficult, requires more bravery and leads to more insight. — Competition as a crutch, Seth Godin
I remember the first class I took — in college — that didn’t pit students against one another but instead asked them to help each other. It was a journalism class, and it was a revelation: that learning could be about improving yourself and the work and helping someone else improve as well. The class was full of positive feelings and energy — we all wanted each other to win, and we helped each other win. I thought, Is this what it’s like when you get out of school? People help each other?
Competition doesn’t only take away the requirement to set your own path, it makes it a virtual impossibility. You can’t focus on creativity, solving problems, and your own interests if you’re playing someone else’s game according to someone else’s preset rules. That means we squelch new ideas before they can even happen
When we frame competition as a tool to bring out the best in people, we forget that people achieve the most not when they’re in competition with each other, but when they’re in competition with themselves. If the only person you’re trying to best is yourself, then everyone you meet is a potential teammate. If we’re not in competition with each other, then I want you to win as much as I want to achieve my goals. I can help you and help myself because no one has to be the loser.
Collaboration requires us to work side by side rather than head to head, and the other guy’s loss is no longer our gain. How much of our society’s life view is formed by those early years when we’re told there can only be a few at the top and in order for someone to win, someone else has to lose?