My husband is working on our family tree and looking for information about deceased relatives. Hoping to find some information on gravestones, we went searching. I looked at many unmarked graves, simply a pile of dirt with a few pebbles on top and thought, “That will be me in 100 years”. These are the questions I asked myself when I went to that cemetery recently:
“Is success really about material possessions or fulfilling my purpose? What is a reasonable price for ‘success’ because I must exchange my life for it? Is success measured against what I am capable of doing? If I could do more, be more, have more should I? If I could try harder, achieve more, should I? At the end of my life could I say, ‘I gave it all I had – this is the best that I could do’.”
You see I believe that good is the enemy of better and better is the enemy of best, and best is the enemy of great. If you could be great at something, should you? Will you leave the world a better place because you were here, or are you simply a consumer? Should you leave a legacy for the next generation, and if so, what could it be?
Life is short regardless of how you look at your stay here on this earth. You and I possess the potential to make out of our life whatever we choose. Each of us has the same amount of time every day. Having faced the reality of an early death, to waste any of these precious minutes seems a violation of the gift of additional time on the planet.
It isn’t about competing with anyone else, but competing with my own potential. I have so much more inside of me, but I keep letting life get in the way of developing that potential. But then as I look back I can see how through all the tough stuff, I have grown.
I think this approach has provided me with a peace and inner excitement when faced with challenges. When we are looking for the learning, we can decide how to embrace it, explore it, and learn from it. A successful, balanced life in the end is addressing who we are and becoming what we desire at all levels, physical, emotional, spiritual.
Positive competition is about challenging ourselves to find our greatness and go even deeper. It is pushing ourselves to get the most from our potential. It is about ‘being’ all that we are created to be. It is asking for and allowing the talent, expertise, and support of others to help take us to our potential and returning the favour to others. When we compete consciously in this healthy, positive way, stress isn’t a part of our lives. Competing this way has everything to do with our true value as human beings. Our goal isn’t to be better than others, our goal is based on how we perform compared to our potential. If I have helped you to win then I win as well, because a rising tide lifts all ships. True life happiness is about win-win. If you get to the top of the pinnacle and there is only room for you…It is a lonely place. To me life isn’t about competing with the achievements of other people. If we win – they lose, and therefore we have moved up a notch on the totem pole. Making others look small for us to look big doesn’t bring close relationships.
Naturally, in our journey called life, there are times when we win and times when we seem to lose. When we are going through the tough stuff, we can wonder what we have done wrong to be – ‘in the pooh’ as the saying goes. But what I have discovered is I have learned more from the apparent losses than the wins. As I look back, I can see for me to be who I am now, I needed the lessons that can only be learned when you go through the fire. Pure silver or gold comes out through the fire. A diamond is formed under pressure. And so, I am learning to embrace the fire and pressure for what it does for my character and, therefore, my value as a human being. Then I am wiser and have more compassion and far less judgement of others.
To step into a more authentic and fulfilled person, we must let go of the paradigms that we were taught as adolescents. Paradigms about titles on our business card giving us value or how we measure a successful person or understanding what really matters in life. As John Maxwell says, “I want to be remembered by the lives that I’ve touched. I want to live a life that counts. With each day that passes, I feel a greater sense of urgency to make sure my time and energy are invested in developing leaders”. Developing a healthier version of personal positive competition truly can enrich us and, therefore, releases us to reach our highest potential in every area of our lives.