The culture in the United States is one of competition. In everything from academics to business, to sports, we thrive on gaining a competitive edge, on being “the best”, & achieving perfection.
Competition can stimulate great innovation, giant leaps in knowledge, & even significant social change, but there is a serious drawback to this culture of competition too.
The specific drawback we’re discussing today is a spinoff of competition, if you will; it’s an activity that almost always results in crippling behavior that just plain keeps us stuck! Do you know what that activity is?
It’s actually very simple, and it is rampant throughout the world:
In this instance, I am talking about the animosity that develops between people or groups because the other group seems to be more successful.
All of a sudden, the most successful guy in the room is the enemy, and they need to be toppled, or better yet, beaten at their own game.
You see it in Europe sometimes when the wrong soccer team wins & a total riot ensues: cars get tipped over, things are all of a sudden on fire, & everybody is walking around with VHS players & bread mixers. It’s all based on rivalry.
How fascinating is that? The fans whose team just lost go out and forcibly take things from stores, destroy property, & make general fools of themselves. What does looting have to do with rivalry? That’s actually really simple too.
In a situation where rivalry is the driving force behind human action, one person is always the loser, no matter how successful they really are! Therefore, even if your team did REALLY well, the other team did just a BIT better, and therefore took something away from you by doing so.
What happens when somebody takes your favorite yellow ducky away from you as a child? You have a tantrum, try to forcibly take it back, and when you can’t you settle for the green block in your baby-sister’s toy box.
Fast forward 20 years, and you’ll settle for the plasma screen in that shop over there.
Now my point is not that all people participating in rivalry are looters. My point is that believe it or not, the mentality behind looting & the mentality behind an (apparently) less nefarious crime like a big corporation cooking the books because their competition did a bit better than they did this quarter is actually exactly the same mentality.
Still not convinced? This next part might blow your mind if you let it:
Do you ever find yourself reaching for a cigarette or that extra bagel you don’t need because today’s not just going all that well for you? Everybody else just seems to be getting so much stuff done, and you haven’t even finished checking your emails yet.
This is the good part.
Whether consciously or not, you actually are hard-wired to be in rivalry with the people around you (more on that in a later entry). When you perceive another person’s success, you go into the “looting” mentality because in the rivalry mindset, another person’s success directly equals your failure, & thus you incur a virtual loss. Therefore you have to reclaim that loss in some way, & what better way to do that than to take control of something right in front of you like a cigarette, sugary drink, or a bagel with double cream cheese and lox!
And then come the love-handles & excuses. You know what the consequences are to those behaviors, I don’t have to outline them for you.
The point is, by extrapolation one could even say that the very mentality of rivalry could be bad for your productivity, your success, or even worse, your health.
So here’s today’s takeaway:
Competition = Good (more on this later)
Rivalry = Bad (& possibly prompts you to make unhealthy choices)
Have you ever had a situation where rivalry actually ended up being a productive force in your life? I’d like to hear about it!
Regardless, if this new perspective on competition & rivalry resonated with you in any way, tell us about it in the comments below. Maybe you don’t see things the same way, we still want to hear from you right now!