Competitors are not enemies. They are people who keep reminding you of your own shortcomings. You should think of them as your quality control.
‘Sadhguru is a yogi, mystic, internationally renowned speaker and bestselling author. He has been an influential voice at major global forums including the United Nations World Headquarters and the World Economic Forum; addressing issues as diverse as socioeconomic development, leadership and spirituality. He has also been invited to speak at leading educational institutions, including Oxford, London Business School, IMD, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton and MIT, to name a few.
Question: The idea of competition is so ingrained in our minds in every aspect of our lives, that it creates a lot of unnecessary stress. What can be done about this?
Sadhguru: Competition is not necessarily a bad thing. Lack of competence is a bad thing. If you are incompetent and you are in competition, you will feel stressed. If you want to be in a competitive situation, you have to work on your competence. Right now, the problem is that you are tweaking your desire without tweaking your competence. Socially, we call this ambition or goal-orientedness.
But instead of tweaking up your desire, if you tweak up your competence, wherever you go, you will do better than people expect you to. The most fundamental thing you need to understand is that you can never be better or worse than someone. It is all in your mind. The desperation to be better than someone arises only because you did not find anything of value within yourself. Those who do not have any sense of their own competence will become competitive because their only pleasure is in being one step ahead of someone else.
When you enjoy something that other people do not have, or when you enjoy other people’s suffering, it is sickness, not joy. But this sickness has permeated into the world in a huge way and we think this is the only way to achieve something in our lives. Right from an early age, even before children start school, their parents start telling them, “I am going to put you in the best school, you must be number one, you must be the best student.” Everybody else must be less than you, that is the only wish!
If your joy comes from other people’s suffering, it will not lead to either your wellbeing or the world’s wellbeing. With this kind of sickness, even simple aspects of life like eating well and sleeping well will not happen. This is already the situation in modern societies. Either people must pop a pill or have a drink, otherwise most of them cannot sleep.
Competition is okay in the short-term
It is okay if you want to run a race, but life is not a race. If life becomes a race, and if you want to win, you must hit the finish line first, isn’t it? In a race like that, if you win, you are gone! There is no need to make life into a race. Here and there, we will race with each other for sport, and we will race like our life depends on it! But there is no need to make your entire life into a race. You do not have to be the best nor do you have to be better than someone else.
You just have to be the best that you can be. Everything that you can be must happen because every one of you is a unique being. The important thing is, will you unfold all the possibilities that you hold within yourself? This is all your concern should be. If you focus enough on enhancing your competence, you will see that there is so much joy in breaking your limitations every day and becoming something better. You will no longer care a damn how someone else is doing.
Excellence is not about being better than someone else
Excellence means to function with utmost ease and at your best. Unfortunately, in the name of competition, most human beings are not exploring the depth and dimension of their own intrinsic competence. Maybe you could fly, but instead you are choosing to be one step ahead of someone else. This is not the way to approach life.
True excellence is about the full blossoming of an individual human being
‘Sadhguru founded the Isha Foundation in 1992, a volunteer run organisation with the aim of contributing to global harmony and progress. In July 2020, Isha Foundation was accredited by the United Nations Environmental Programme; with special consultancy status to the Economic and Social Programme granted in 2007.’