From the time that we are in kindergarten or maybe even preschool we are conditioned to keep score. We are introduced to scoreboards, on which we receive stars for doing good, or we lose them for doing bad or at least not good enough. The more stars we obtain, the closer we get to winning some type of prize.
We are ranked from childhood. We have report cards that indicate how well we are doing in our school subjects. By December, we even have Santa Clause to remind us if we’ve been naughty or nice. By the time we are deep into elementary school and junior high, we realize that not only do we have to do well because our grades depend upon them, but we learn the importance of conforming to social and family pressures of perfectionism.
In essence, Western society breed children to compete against one another. Competition means we learn how to kick the ball harder and more accurately than the other kid, in the hope we will be viewed as a strong teammate and we will be picked early to be on the right team. And this game continues on into and through adulthood. We learn to do whatever it takes, within reason for the goodhearted among us, to reach our ultimate personal and professional goals.
But this competition can often create sibling rivalry not to mention rivalry amongst peers within our class. I personally experienced this when I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees among my classmates as well as my family.
Unfortunately, it’s human nature to compete. It’s survival of the fittest. Our capitalistic society is built upon this premise, but this doesn’t mean that the system is without flaws. When you’re not ranked high enough, you aren’t good enough. We value ourselves based upon winning and losing. Admittedly so, who doesn’t want to know what it’s like to take home the first prize? Not being first, the best or the ‘winner’ is okay. Beside the fact that we might not receive a trophy (or we might, as too often we get rewarded for merely showing up and doing the bare minimum, but that’s a different blog for a different day), sometimes we need to surrender to the fact that we are our best right at this very moment, removed from man-made ranking systems. In other words, can we look at ourselves in the mirror and honestly be pleased with the result?
Win or learn, it’s how you play the game. And in this life, successful people will only put their best foot forward with you. Their online profiles and printed resumes show the bullet points highlighting everything they’ve achieved and accomplished. You won’t see on someone’s resume the times they were late, when they missed a deadline or all the rejections and doors closed on them. But, every successful person has failed and failed and failed. Not everyone will openly share their failures, and the times they were the “loser.” So, it can sometimes come across as if successful individuals (by society’s definition) are practically perfect.
But as we all know, no one is perfect. But somehow, some people really do appear to have superhuman abilities and meanwhile some of us little people below them aren’t capable of achieving the same. This is totally untrue. They’re just not showing you all of their cards. They’re not sharing with you who helped them and how they got to where they are. Sometimes the successful people really didn’t do much of anything and were born into good times and have simply continued to play the great hand they were dealt. Good for them, but many others aren’t as lucky and have to work their butts off.
And honestly, not everyone will share tips, tricks, and provide referrals. Why? Because not everyone wants you to win. It’s true. It’s as if they somehow feel threatened that if they do help, you are going to take their job and even worse you’d somehow now be their competition. But everything doesn’t have to be a competition.
The Bottom Line
Not everyone is dealt the same circumstances in life. Some of us have had to bust our butt for everything. So, when we are the runner-up and not number one, then maybe it’s not a defeat but an opportunity to examine and evaluate all of our steps, actions and reactions. If you didn’t “win” whether it be personal or professional, don’t treat yourself like a big fat loser. Try seeing things from a different perspective. You’re a student of life on a journey and you are always doing one thing: Learning. Take this opportunity to realize that everything that happens can either break you down or make you a better, stronger person. Master this and you’ll truly be a champion.