I want to be better than you — It’s as simple as that
And I don’t just mean in one thing. I want to beat you, I want to triumph over you, I want to surpass you in whatever skill it is you possess that I perceive to be of value.
It began when my brother came along, and I remember he made people laugh more than I ever could. I take everything that people exceed my abilities in as a personal challenge to excel. I might not have that natural talent to do what you do, but I am willing to work twice as hard for twice as long to understand the intricacies that you take for granted.
It continues now when I see the founders of Billion Dollar multi-national enterprises as human instead of the God-like species that the media portrays. Each of them has skills which I analyse and try to understand why it makes them successful and then I proceed to try and exceed them.
The thread of continuity that ties the different periods of my life together is one of competition. It’s in recognising the competition and being willing to be honest enough with yourself to see your weaknesses.
I am willing to retroactively reflect on my scars. I willingly look in the mirror and confess my failings. I never pull the wool over my eyes or lie to myself. I identify my weaknesses ruthlessly and optimise my growth efficiently. I improve small things understanding that marginal gains add up and create tremendous evolution leading to growth.
I never let myself get demoralised. I never let myself think that I can’t do what other people are doing. I used what people are doing as evidence of what is possible.
If you had the sixteen year old Shakespeare or Einstein in school with you, I’m certain they would be impressive, but not totally unlike anyone else.
This is an uncomfortable thought.
If they were just like us, then it stands to reason that they had to work incredibly hard to achieve what they did. That’s why we like to believe in genius. It gives you an excuse to be lazy and avoid hard work. We like to think that some people achieve unimaginable successes by something other than hard work. If that’s true, we aren’t to blame for failing to realise our potential.
Counter intuitively, by trying to better than people you make friends that last a lifetime. You find people that challenge you and beat you. Unless you are competing against people better than you there is no way you will ever get better. Every martial artist will tell you that.
But this is an uncomfortable truth. We hate to accept that people are better than us. We want to believe that everyone is equal, but nobody is the same so it stands to reason that people are far better than you in certain aspect and you are far better than them in other.
We must cast aside our aspersions and never disregard unseemly motivations. In my opinion the most powerful human desire is to be better than another person at something. This is the genesis of revolution, where someone thought there idea was better than some one elses. Where products are replaces by disruptive innovators who leave incumbents in the dust.
Competition is life. I want to be better than you because it’s survival of the fittest. I want to create things that last and replace things that are forgotten.
The only problem with acknowledging this is that people don’t like to admit it is true. Those who suceed don’t care. They see where the people they want to be better than are and try to emulate them.
In reality this is the greatest form of flattery you can give to anyone. That you deem their goal worth of pursuit. You deem the level they have attained as something you should strive for.
If you refuse to believe that it is just and right you are setting yourself up for failure. You need to understand that everyone is trying to be better than you. Everyone wants to exceed you. That will only become more true as machines try to become better than you at every single thing you do.
So if you are good you need to get better.
If you are great someone is coming for you.
If you are on top everyone wants to depose you.
The crippling feeling of self doubt grips everyone. Everyone feels like an impostor. Everyone else thinks someone else is better than them. The only difference between those who are better than you and those who aren’t is that one set of those people recognised the challenge.
Stop thinking about those coming for you and instead focus on those who are ahead of you. Recognise how much quicker you catch people turning to see how close you are getting compared to those who never stop running.
We can wallow in self pity or we can change the world.
We can let people achieve more than us or we can see ourselves for what we are. We can get over the things holding us back by doing everything in our power to improve every single day.
I can only do this through competition. I use that as a personal challenge. I use other people as the anchor to showcase exactly what is possible.
All I know is that I want to be better than you.