Cancer is defined as an evil or destructive practice or phenomenon that is hard to contain or eradicate. Today the cancer that society is battling, unbeknown to us, is competition. Competing against each other! Does this presuppose that we shouldn’t compete? Absolutely not! 

In human beings, competition is akin to self-worth as fizzy drinks are to one’s body. Winning is not really good for character building. It really just gives one bragging rights for a short period. Competition exists as healthy and harmful entities.

Competition becomes healthy when:

  • it addresses a bigger picture with a view to benefitting the whole organization, discipline or industry;
  • it celebrates values that individuals hold dear collectively like fairness, integrity, honor etc.;
  • an individual uses it to further their own ability to outperform themselves against themselves;
  • individuals learn to embrace and enjoy the journey as much as the end result;
  • the intention to do good or the right thing supersedes the immoral undertones;

However, it becomes unhealthy when:

  • one looks to do it to seek validation and acceptance from others’
  • it’s about pulling down others and pushing myself up; It is about winning at all costs and that is all that matters. This tends to lead to disreputable choices and undermining the journey at the cost of the end result;
  • one views life in general as the need to have equality in everything. Thus, fear becomes the determining force to get ‘my’ share and deny it to someone else;
  • it leads the world to the brink of disaster because we are too busy competing and less busy building bridges;
  • winners are revered and losers are looked down upon especially when the greatest victors are those that have persistently failed and eventually succeeded;

There is a better way of ensuring that we can overcome competition. We need to:

  • Avoid competing against each other;
  • Stop comparing;
  • Be conscientious role models by watching everything we say and do;
  • Avoid making acceptance conditional on the outcome;
  • Celebrate the journey as well as the end result;

If society’s idea of a greater good is competition, it may just be because we have been too busy boxing ourselves and have not tried the alternative.

Abdulhussain Tejani