Learning is learning, what is the scope or meaning of competition in that? Everyone has his or her level of comprehension and skillset. Some take more time to learn math but are wonderful at poetry others take less time but not good with creativity. Isn’t it common? So life is good when we try to be a better version of ourselves, competing with ourselves rather than trying to compete with everyone out there. I hope the new education policy, keeps this at its core rather than making kids slog to get more marks.
Inspiration for competing to improve myself
I was an (above) average Joe in school days, used to do a lot of extracurricular. This happened when I was in grade 11. In 11th, we all took admission in this school from different schools. I started sitting with my colony friend Sumit and his friend Nikhil. Both of them were far more intelligent, toppers, and NTSE (National Talent Search Examination) scholars. At the beginning of grade 11, I wasn’t very serious about studies. I wanted to be an engineer however I was still in many extracurricular kind of lacking focus. I found the focus on studies after an interesting incident, and yet continued with extracurricular.
One day, Nikhil was sitting with his Mathematics “book” and thinking something. Because this book was kept below the desk and there was no notebook. I asked, “what are you reading”? He replied, “I am solving a problem”. I said there is no notebook and you seem to be reading a book. He said “trying to solve it mentally”. I asked again – what problem is it. It was 2 or 3 chapters ahead of our school math classes chapter.
It made me serious about studies and made me think about how can I solve problems mentally rather than on just pen papers. When I look back, I realized that Nikhil was an inspiration for me. There was no competition for me with him or anyone else in the class. I just wanted to be better than what I was earlier. In fact on a serious note, Nikhil always scored a perfect 100 in Math that I could never. It seems like if I take the Math exam again, there will be still room for improvement. Effectively, he helped me be a better version of myself, I could never become like him in Math though. 🙂
What better recognition one can expect? Within a year I had improved myself a lot. Once in grade 12, he said “Computer ko lekar Brahma ne banaya kya?” (Did God make you with a computer?) for solving either probability or integration/differentiation problem in class – I used to do it in the head without touching pen paper. This, coming from the same person was a testimony that I had achieved what I set as a goal. Nikhil did not know that he was eventually praising himself because he had motivated me to do something like this.
Competing with ourselves
There are inspirations as Nikhil was for me – how can I be like him, solve problems in mind itself. However, when we limit ourselves we either have envy or competition. The world is too big to compete with everyone – currently about 7 billion. It’d be endless and completely outwards journey as Alexander (the great) had. He kept on trying to win the world and died too young learning “I’ll die empty-handed“.
The endless competition with “self” is better because the goal is to improve oneself daily. Nikhil had been a positive influencer who became an inspiration, not a competition. In fact, Sumit and Nikhil both became an influencer for me (read another incident from the same school here), Sumit was the state topper in 12th. A lot later in my life, I came to understand and relate to these learnings with both of them as interdependent co-arising. I wonder what they learned from me but I improved a lot. The word “competition” must be looked at with a positive perspective, it should help one improve oneself rather than becoming a race. A perspective and an approach make a huge difference in one’s life. Thank you, Nikhil for inspiring me and eventually helping me learn that one has to compete with ourselves rather than the endless world.
Competing with ourselves in business
I understand it becomes difficult to digest the concept of competition in academics, professional life, and business. I shall share more thoughts on that in some future blogs. Here is a pointer until that blog, I am reading a book by my MBA professor – The new rules of business. This book also gives a perspective on competition. A wonderful lesson from that can be paraphrased as – if you compete with your competitors you may end up being a copy of them in fact one may end up doing the mistakes your industry is doing.