Which one is growth-oriented?
“Wanna be on top?”, says Tyra Banks in one of her opening intros for America’s Next Top Model. It’s difficult to admit but I watched this show in my
High School (College) years with great interest. There was a great deal of excitement surrounding the competition among twelve hopeful models vying for the coveted title and front page cover on Vogue. Who will be the best and who will win the grand prize? I remember having long discussions with my friends over the lengths the participants went through to realize their dreams.
Shave their head? Sure.
Go to the dentist to create a gap between their teeth. Why not?
Shoot photos in the nude. Anything for fame and acclaim.
That was precisely the problem. The young participants went at it trying to please Tyra and the other judges. Is this what they really wanted or were they following a path someone else created for them?
My Early Years
In retrospect, that same stream of competition ran through my veins. It didn’t help that my Parents drilled competition in my DNA.
“Your friend’s doing a PhD. What are you doing? Hopefully, you become a ‘real’ Doctor to top that.”
“The neighbor’s son just got accepted into Harvard. Must feel nice to have a child in the Ivy League.”
“Your cousin knows how to cook food and she is younger than you. What a helping hand she must be to her mother.”
The only way of being was to be better than everyone else. What other way was there? My friends and I went through our College years trying to outdo one another (inadvertently of course). If she can do it, so can I. I can do it better. In this competitive merry go round, I did not give myself the opportunity to pause and think what do I actually want? I ran like a rat from one major to the next. This one will give me prestige. This one will guarantee me a solid career. This one will make sure I have a roof over my head. This one will make me sound educated and affluent. This one shows I’m a well rounded person.
In the end, I earned very little with my College degree. I got lost within the competition and followed a path I did not want for myself. I avoided that difficult question of, “What do I actually want?” The focus was deflected from myself to others. My personal growth took a hit. I was too busy thinking about what others are doing and how can I do it better? A better way would have been to see what my interests are and what skills would I like to enhance? How can I grow and how can I be better for myself rather than in comparison to someone else? Is there such a thing as being better than someone else?
The same can be said when I look at social media accounts. I used to not look at the number of followers and friends. As I am trying to get comfortable with being more visible on social media, I started looking at that number. I fell back into my old patterns of comparison and competition. Once again, I shifted the focus to someone else rather than myself. It’s time to ask myself some important questions and bring the focus back to me and my personal growth.
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are. -Marilyn Monroe
There’s a different way. In place of competition, what about collaboration? There’s always going to be someone better. Instead of looking at it as a threat, why not look at it as an opportunity to expand and learn from others? We can build each other up. What if we look at others as an inspiration rather than as competition? It’s a simple mind shift that can take us farther. Each one of us is a culmination of different skills, which give us our own unique wings.
Before collaboration, there is a need to recognize our own truth and to know we bring value to the table. There is also a need to lower our wings in humility, so that we may learn from others. While unhealthy competition can stunt our personal growth, collaboration creates many opportunities to thrive.
Has your competitive side ever reared its ugly head? How can you use collaboration to flip your thinking and benefit yourself as well as others?