I know many that subscribe to the notion, that they don’t like to compete or are annoyed by competitive people. Sometimes, I think to myself that those people are either complacent, not confident, or avoid losing by not playing at all. However, I get and respect that perspective too. I stopped playing video games because my younger brother used to kick my whole bottom off in Madden (video football game). Single handedly, he is the reason for my “retirement” of gaming. As I continue to become more in tune with the world, my experiences in it and further develop personally, I believe that HEALTHY competition is a beautiful thing. After all, there are only so many slots available in that college you’d like to go to, positions to be had for your career field, desirable schools to send your kids to, houses available in your ideal neighborhood, businesses to start, etc. if you catch my drift. Whether you like it or not, you exist in one big competition.
In my opinion, there is a lot to be gained from being a true competitor from a healthy perspective. It builds dedication, persistence, commitment to improvement, resilience, drive and promotes growth. Two or more people committed to a competition involving the same or related goals are almost certain to progress further together than alone. No challenge, no deadline, no consequence for inaction and no sense of urgency is a recipe for “floating” (lack of progress). I admittedly am a competitive person and personally feel like I have benefited greatly from being one. Through all the wins and losses, I’ve learned and earned so much that I’m 100% confident I wouldn’t be the person I am today without that character trait. However, There is an alternative to carving out a space for yourself without competition, and that is by creating.
In an effort to quickly and easily provide an example for digesting this compete vs create narrative, we’ll use the automotive industry. Nissan, Toyota, GM, Ford, Benz, BMW and many others have been competing for over 115 years in that industry. Who’s the best built, the safest, the fastest, the most luxurious, the most comfortable, the best priced, etc. These companies have been duking it out for years to edge one another out of a position in an attempt to further solidify theirs. The world’s largest manufacturer, the company with the greatest demand for its product (car) is Totoyta. Edging out it’s closest competitor (Volkswagen Group) by 83,717 vehicles (via 2017 report). Toyota has been around since 1937 and in 2019 it was at least twice as valuable as it’s closest competitor with a 203 billion dollar valuation. They have competed and earned that spot.
On the other hand, since 2003, in 17 short years there’s been a new kid on the block that was essentially ignored for the first 7 years or so by the reigning powers that be as well as the general public for the most part. Tesla. Unlike all of the other incumbent automakers competing with one another, Tesla didn’t make cars powered by spark ignited combustion engines (gasoline powered) or compression-ignited systems (diesel fueled). Tesla automotives run on 100% electricity. Which is not a new concept, but electric cars failed to make a dent in the market for the past 100 years, for two big reasons: range and production costs. Gasoline powered vehicles could travel further than their electric peers and cost less to make.
Hindsight is 20/20 and we now know that Elon Musk and Tesla have forever changed the game. He didn’t do so by competing with Toyota (or others) and trying to beat them at their own game. He rewrote the rules, created his own lane and as a result had a “free” pathway to the top. He CREATED!!
Fast forward to present day. Tesla, not even a complete year after being worth 5 times less than Toyota at $39 billion (in 2019), is now the most valuable automotive company in the world with a valuation of approximately 300 billion dollars (at the time of writing). Shooting past Toyota, not because Elon chose to compete with Toyota, but because he chose to create something different and relatively new to what we’ve seen in the past. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win. Which is just what happened to Elon Musk and Tesla.
There are three lessons here in summary:
- Be Comfortable – Be complacent, do the minimum, and fit in with most of the people that occupy your day to day environment, community, and surroundings.
- Embrace Healthy Competition – Attempt to outwork everyone (i.e. Michael Jordan) and be the best or among the best (in the top 10%) to create a better than average lifestyle.
- Be Creative – Avoid a lot of competition (initially at least) and create a clear path for you to make your own way.
With that said, are you competing, creating or neither. Let me know your thoughts on the topic in the comments. Thanks for reading.
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