Understanding the Right Way to Compete

We are all born with the desire to compete. Some people adopt an unhealthy approach to competition. Learn how to compete in a healthy way.

During the 17th century, there were many devil’s cohorts. In 1611, the first term explaining how people compete was created. Its origins sprang from the legendary devil’s school in Toledo. After many months of precise instructions in the ‘black craft,’ all pupils were subjected to one final test – the challenge was a race where the students were expected to have the speed of a puma.

The graduating class was required to run through an underground tunnel from one end to the other. Those who were too slow, and therefore left behind, would be caught by the devil – ‘if’ he could catch them. The captured poor unfortunate was doomed to become the devil’s servant. Hence, the phrase, ‘the devil take the hindmost,’ was derived.

Why Do People Compete?

People compete for many reasons, including the following:

  • achieving long- or short-term goals that they have dreamed about
  • gaining popularity and/or fame
  • appearing superior to others
  • having fun

Defining the Word ‘Compete’

This is an activity where one person does their best to outdo another person or another group. Whether the goal is minor or significant, this contesting spirit is prevalent in our world. Overachievers thrive on the spirit of competition. Sometimes, the most innocent competitions intended only for fun may turn into a desperate rivalry session.

Competing Definition

Taking part in a contest, sports event, academic challenge, work presentation, and any other element which requires taking an active part against an opponent is competing. The objective is often some type of gain and is usually the primary motivation for competing.

Competing can be formal or informal, an object or emotion people fight for. For instance, competing in a contest to win a monetary prize doesn’t have the same ethical value as two men competing for a woman’s attention; one is a matter of worldly gain, and the other is a matter of the heart.

When the event or challenge has been completed, someone wins, and the competition is over. Competition is not only limited to people; animals compete and, although difficult to believe, feel gratification and pride when they win.

Although animals may not have a direct competitive spirit or fully realize what they will gain from a competition, they understand the mood of the people they work with and perceive commendations and ‘rewards’ the same way people do.

The only element animals lack when it comes to competition is the damaging and fanatic way humans react to competitiveness.

There have been times when people competed without even realizing that high or low stakes were involved. Some people have a mild psychological bend towards competition and, ironically, come out victorious simply because they were not overdoing it.

These mild competitors often infuriate those who harbor pent-up emotions and become over agitated when they don’t get what they want. It is not healthy to take competition so seriously, but sadly it does happen.

Although competition is a normal part of life, some people take it so seriously that it affects their self-esteem if they do not win. They take the competition to an unhealthy level and may use immoral standards just to be called a winner.

Lying, scheming, and demonizing others is common unethical practices that overly competitive people resort to in their workplaces. Those people usually have self-esteem problems. They feel inferior to others and must find ways to prove they are better than them to gain attention or garner popularity.

It is lovely to be competitive; however, when this competitive trait takes over a person’s life, they should be worried. Such people may talk badly about their co-workers before their bosses, so they do not receive promotions.

This sort of behavior creates a hostile environment at the office, and other co-workers usually understand the nature of this person. Putting co-workers in a bad light or belittling family members creates hard feelings and ostracizes the perpetrator. No one will feel they are friendly or trustworthy.

How to Compete in a Constructive Way

Many people have the correct attitude toward accomplishing goals in their lives; those are born to compete. They are confident, hardworking, and dedicated and have a realistic view of their abilities.

They have a balanced view of failure and understand that failure is a tool one can use to discover their true talents. Instead of feeling tense all the time because they have to keep up with the competition, these people are comfortable with who they are and realize that they don’t always have to win to succeed.

In today’s highly competitive world, you may feel lost and unable to keep up with the ever-changing demands of society. So it is a good idea to find something you are good at and do your best to be even better. Do not let your place in the competition define your self-worth.

Having a Healthy Competitive Outlook

Being realistic about the difference between healthy and unhealthy competition will protect you from a ‘compete every day’ mentality. The most significant competition in life is not with others but conquering the fears, faults, and defects within your own life.

By setting realistic goals for yourself based on what you want to achieve, you are adopting a positive approach to personal growth. It’s not about what people’ think’ of you – it’s about how you feel about yourself. This positive attitude enables you to build standards for yourself regardless of age or position. Staying true to your goals is reflective of being true to yourself.

Whatever you want, no matter how grand or simple, remember to boost other people along the way. Keep competition on the level it belongs to by having a mature and stable vision of your aspirations. Never turn or subvert; never worry about what Jane or John down the road owns. You have everything you need to succeed right within yourself.

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