You should only compete with one person: yourself

This perspective is what people mean by healthy competition

Herbert Lui
Oct 26, 2016 · 3 min read
Source: The Mushroom Kingdom

It’s easy to compare yourself against other people especially as they flood our screens with images. But when you compete against other people, you judge yourself based on their values and metrics. The problem with this is even if you win, you only do something that’s important to them, not you.

Life is a competition, but it’s not a race against anyone else. Rather, the real journey is only against yourself and unrealized potential. This is what Jay Z means when he raps, “I look in the mirror, my only opponent.” There’s also the famous adage (often misattributed to Einstein), “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Jay Z for L’uomo Vogue

Similarly, Kanye West says, “It’s not about the competition. It’s about competing with yourself. That’s why when I play video games, I like playing racing games instead of fighting games. Fighting games are won by beating someone else down. Racing is a matter of figuring out your technique and driving as fast as you can — and that’s how my life has been this year.”

Rather than competing against the next person, you can chase your future self. Matthew McConaughey chases his ideal self, ten years in the future. He says, “Every day, every week, every month, and every year of my life, my hero is always 10 years away. I’m never going to beat my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not! That’s just fine with me, because it keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”

The most important part of competing against yourself is the ability to set your own values and metrics. You choose the goals that fit you best, and what you really want to compete on — and what you don’t.

And, yeah, sometimes you lose. You might do worse than you did before. Some days, it’s just enough not to take a step backward. And others, when you least expect it, you bound forward.

Either way, when you compete with yourself, you won’t be lured into other people’s competition and their values. Move forward but only evaluate yourself based on meaningful things. Smile, nod, and then forget it when other people try to entice you into competing. Only you can decide what really matters to you.

Want to Take Your Brain to the Next Level?

I recommend books and and share quotes from experts in creative work and psychology. You’ll also instantly receive my best articles on creativity (read by 300,000 others): http://herbertlui.net/best-of-books/

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to…

Herbert Lui

Written by

I write about creativity and psychology. Get the best of what I read and my articles on creativity (read by 300,000 others): http://herbertlui.net/best-of-books

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

Herbert Lui

Written by

I write about creativity and psychology. Get the best of what I read and my articles on creativity (read by 300,000 others): http://herbertlui.net/best-of-books

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store