Living back in the big smoke, after our stint on the road last year, and one of the first things that became apparent while living the city life once again is the pace, the intensity, and how everyone seems to be so disconnected from one another.
You walk the city pavements and there is no eye contact with fellow walkers, there are no greetings or smiles exchanged and very little politeness to let someone on the bus in front of you, or take your seat…just because.
It has an air of selfishness, individualism and competitiveness. But how can a city filled with millions and millions of people feel so isolating? You could walk for blocks without talking to a soul, although you have passed plenty.
Without even knowing it we are fighting for the best seat, or simply a seat on the bus, a parking space, the last salmon poke bowl or making that 6.02pm bus. It seems the threat of not being able to get what we want has transformed all of us into competitors. But, why?
The reason we feel so threatened is that we want our life to match our expectations.
We want that promotion to be able to get a raise, that deal to be successful so we’re appreciated by our colleagues, we can meet our mortgage, be able to pay for the hospital bills. We NEED it. And everyone who represents an obstacle to our goals has to be removed from our path. Why? Because we don’t want to face the humiliation to tell our partner, our family, our friends or our colleague that we didn’t make it. Ultimately our “ego”, the projection of ourselves that other can see, makes us feel like a loser. It needs and craves external validations in order to feel satisfied.
The funniest part of this process is that it’s all in our head. We’ve been convinced it works this way and we never questioned the existence of an alternative.
Our desire to win disguises in reality our need to be recognised, considered, acknowledged and respected.
However, do we really think exclusion is the best path to get there?
The more we see everyone as a competitor the more we disconnect ourselves from others. Every day we face plenty of “opponents” and every time we do we create a separation, a distance between ourselves and “the others”.
Everybody wants to be a winner, and in doing so only creates division. When did we start forgetting the meaning of fair play, of honour, of integrity? When did we decide that getting the prize is more important than treating our fellow men and women with dignity and consideration?
Life can be tough, and sometimes it might look like a competition. But only when we find someone we didn’t expect lending a helping hand, or putting themselves in the line of fire to protect us, we renew our strength. Life is not about getting the first place, it’s about empowering people to help others. One of these days we might be in need of a helping hand as well.
In our opinion, the ultimate goal is not the prize you can win in competition; it is about what we learn in the process. If what we learn is that we are better than someone else, it will only ever bring division. However, on the other hand, if we realise that the outcome of the competition has very little value as long as we give it your best shot, as a professional but most importantly as a human being, our personal growth will benefit from it. Acknowledging that there is no division between winners and losers will only bring inclusion.
So the next time you find yourself competing with a colleague, stranger or neighbour, simply ask yourself “what am I really competing for?”