Author Colin Wright discusses competition and the ways in which we compare ourselves to others in his book Considerations. Throughout his book, he focuses extensively on shifting our perspective and awareness inwards to better understand ourselves, and when it comes to goal setting, he advocates that we do this to ensure our goals are aligning with our inner self. If we don’t turn our reflection inward, we are not leading our life on our own terms and Wright writes, “do you want to measure yourself by the standards of others? Do you want to live your life by a metric determined by those you’re competing against?”
The quote above speaks to the ways we compare ourselves to those around us, and how limiting that can be. When we determine whether or not we are successful based on our performance relative to those around us we end up driving in a direction that does not lead us to true growth or the types of growth which would serve us best. We end up pushing towards some end because it is what others in our group have determined to be desirable. That end may be positive and where we want to go, or it may fall in an area that is not aligned with what truly motivates us. If we are working towards our goals simply to be more impressive than others or because we want to fit in with those around us, we will not be happy with the results we achieve.
Furthermore, when we are driving and competing with those around us we fail to see the larger picture. Wright continues his explanation in Considerations by using the analogy of a footrace. If you run a race and win, then you are now regarded as the fastest of that group who happened to be running on that day in that race. You may achieve a goal in winning a race, but you may also be a big fish in a small pond, and relative to other runners in the community you may not be performing at a high level. Competing and winning in small groups may boost the ego, but it can also be a false feeling of success.
What Wright is establishing in his quote and his running analogy is the idea that success is not determined by the groups we are associated with and our performance in those groups. Driving towards success as defined by others does not help us reach places where we will find happiness and comfort. The way we reach a real level of success is by focusing on growth and learning how we can move ourselves forward in a positive direction that aligns with the inner motivations which we understand through deep self-reflection.