03 May The Competition to Be Better Than Yourself
There is the rational you, the realistic you, the lets all jump-off-this-cliff-together you, and maybe something in the middle. As an entrepreneur, there is nothing constant. Typically, we start out facing steep precipices. With little knowledge, little experience and a boatload of an ego, we venture into this “you’ve only got one life to live, so do it all’ world to make the climb to the top. And on the way, we bump into hurdles, successes and things you can’t explain. But competition, not the one you have with others, but the internal kind, often slows us down or sends us in the wrong direction. Why do we put so much onus on ourselves to compete against who we were 2, 5, 10 years ago?
The answer is tricky. As a woman in her 30’s, for example, she will look back and wonder why she couldn’t maintain her 22 year old figure. After having children, sunbathing in the tropics, and leading a team of 100 +, of course time will show on her body. But shouldn’t the reward offset the current physical disapproval?
As a man in his mid 40’s, he will look back and wonder why he didn’t sell his startup for 35% more than he got. He will blame himself for this. He may venture to the mirror to uncover a bald spot. The grace of aging, again, appears on his body and he is unsatisfied, wanting to look like he did 10 years ago.
We are in constant competition with our old selves. A constant of always trying to be better than we were a year + ago. Now many would say this is healthy, this is natural and that we should always be improving. But it should never be in comparison to where we were at a point in time. The past has made you who you are today. Was that a cliche? Sure. But it’s right.
Competition can be healthy, and with oneself. But if it ever comes to the point of being scary or dangerous, whether that’s in monetary, physical health or relationship terms, it’s time to stop! You will always be in competition with yourself, to be a better, smarter, richer you. As you should. But don’t compete against your old self to get to the top. Embrace the person you were, and the one you are today. That’s the same one that will get over the precipice and past the hurdles.