Thursday, April 23, 2015

If you are not competitive, can you still succeed?

We all have certain beliefs about our sensitivity. Some of them have dripped down to our very core and color everything we look at. Lately, I have been thinking about self-acceptance and feeling that in many ways, I have just gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick. Many things that I think are wrong with me are just faulty beliefs that keep on living because I haven't pulled them right out of the ground. 

One of my unspoken beliefs is about competition, about the fact that you need to be competitive to be successful. I am not competitive and that has always felt like a disadvantage. Maybe you have this belief too. 

Maybe you, like me, come from a culture and were raised in an environment that placed a high value on competition. Maybe, like me, you have felt marginalized because of something else that you are (such as being a creative person), and so it all built up and you thought that everything that you were added up to something less than what was required to succeed.

If you have felt at a disadvantage because you are not competitive, or thought: Why am I not motivated by competition like other people?, then something that has been crystallizing for me might help you. Maybe what's been holding you back is not some quality you lack, but the inner resistance you feel when you push against your own truth. 

Recently, I read Better than Before, New York Times Bestselling Author Gretchen Rubin's latest book (which is another New York Times bestseller), and something she said underlined what I have been feeling. The book is about habit change, and she tells us that successful habits are built on the foundation of our fundamental nature. What works for one person does not work for the other. There is no one-size-fits-all. 

She also says that she is not a competitive person, and so, that cannot be the motivating drive for her. As far as success goes, she has made it. She is both successful and non-competitive. I think what that points to is that we sometimes forget that passion and competition are not always sitting on the same side of the fence. 

You can love something so much that it can be intrinsically satisfying. And what we love to do, we also keep on practicing. It's something we are deeply interested in, something we think about in a nuanced way, something we keep adding layers to. It's also something we can get very good at.

That's something important for me to remember as a sensitive person. Just because competitiveness is the ideal in society today does not mean that a different value, a different perspective cannot work. Sometimes, I have internalized the weight given to this outer value and found myself lacking, but the truth is that it is comparisons that drain us of our strengths.

If you are not competitive, bottom line is that it won't motivate you. It is a substitute for what really works with you, and by accepting it, you are laying a false structure on which to build things. Maybe that's what's wrong. Maybe that's what's not working. 

One way of accepting ourselves as sensitive people is accepting that our qualities are a constellation that moves in rhythm. We need to re-examine what we have been telling ourselves and re-frame our trait in the light of what we know now, instead of letting the past echo through our lives.

Of course, the problem of succeeding and even what it means is much larger than correcting this one belief. But this could be a good starting point. When we can honor our own way of being and live from that place, that's already success.

If you were to drop this belief, what would you gain? Where could you see yourself going? How would you feel?

If this resonated with you, please pass this on and share this post with anyone who might enjoy it.    

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