I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know many different individuals, in many different walks of life; each with their own views. A topic that has been floating in and out of my attention recently, which is relevant for all sorts of people, is competition.
There can be competition in nearly everything we do that others do also – and nobody denies that; there’s a purpose for it.
In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, students receive instructions on certain techniques, then they have the opportunity to practice them in real-time action with another student in the class.
During this wrestling/sparring session, each student attempts to execute the given techniques they’ve learned to submit their opponent; their opponent defends, and tries to execute their own. The sport is widely looked at as a game of chess with the human body – checkmate being the submission, or injury/neutralization, of your opponent.
While sparring with your opponent, it’s very easy to take on the combative perspective of viewing your opponent as your enemy – it’s understandable, the guy is literally applying techniques to put you to sleep or to bend your joints in directions where bones will break.
It’s basic and introductory to adopt this rigid and strong view of competition; practically everyone who just starts out goes through a relative phase of just “trying to win”; and if they don’t get over it, they don’t remain a practitioner very long.
This stiff perspective takes place in business, too. In our system of capitalism, it’s not uncommon that business owners will use their attention and energy to attempt and wipe out the competitors in their industry. The shortly-contemplated goal is to gain as much of the market as possible, and make lots of money from wiping out your competitors.
Although I’m not always on top of everything, I’m one that believes that if anything is worth being involved in, it’s worth thinking about first.
If we destroy our competitors, there’s truly no reason for us to produce a quality product; everything we distribute can be lousy – no one is left to challenge us, and we have no reason to innovate.
We make lots and lots of money; there’s no competition, we wiped them all out – we have the entire market.
Then we have all this money – what are we going to do with it?
Well, now there’s nothing to buy but other people’s low-quality lousy products from businesses who wiped out their own competitors.
That’s the world we end up creating for ourselves. Nothing fails like success.
I like to think there’s a healthier approach we can each take in these matters. In a more natural view of competition in capitalism, businesses would produce products which force others to increase their standards of quality and operations. In this way, they would build each other up, as opposed to wiping each other out.
Like in the auto industry, company’s need to be constantly producing vehicles that are safer, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly to stay in business. That’s what the people want – better.
The true winner needs to be the consumer. The constant increase in costs to operate and produce better is just a part of the business process in capitalism – it’s the system which pushes us, the economy, and innovation forward.
Even in Jiu-Jitsu, if we wipe out all our competition, then we have no one left to compete with. Thus, just like how when muscles aren’t used they grow weak and fragile, our practice declines; we go stiff and become rusty.
The adjustment that aids this mindset is to implement a sense of cooperation into our perspectives of competition. In this way, we cultivate our opponents, and they in turn cultivate us – we allow growth to happen naturally.
Here, there’s no more projection of an outer “enemy” – we discover the real enemy is within us, our ego.
The person across is just our teacher.