From the day we are born, the world wants to make us competitors. It wants us to focus on getting ahead. Getting ahead means that there is someone or something we are getting ahead of; there is someone also behind. Starting from the pre-school toy room, to the primary classroom, on the soccer field and in the job market, the world categorizes us as winners and losers. It is true that in the game we cannot all be winners on the field, (depending on how you define a winner) however, we can all be leaders. I support this thesis from 38 years of working with individuals and organizations on this principle of purpose: Leaders do not compete and those who compete rarely lead.
At the personal level, why do we believe that life is about winning or losing and who decides the ground rules? If there is a game of life or a market, it should be about building character and making the world a better place. Competition puts life in a tailspin. Many organizations are like processionary caterpillars checking out the other caterpillars to see where they are going. They think the caterpillar ahead of them has some insight worthy of copying. Oh yes, you say you do the same thing, but you do it better. I have always asked, "What does it mean to do it better?" It has come to me that great leaders are effective listeners, not because they are better at something than someone else. Leaders listen well to the need of those they seek to serve and in doing so, they gain insights that lead them to provide unique opportunities that are not competitive because they were not birthed out of comparison. How can you grow into a unique person sharing your unique gift with others if you are always comparing; if you are always saying, "We can both do it, but I can do it better!"
You will never come to discover yourself by comparing. You will only end up confused and frustrated with a potential that was limited; not realized. Why do companies like Kodak lose their market leadership? There are many reasons with most that are much more complex than this writing can address. In its most elementary form, Kodak missed it because it was too busy trying to compete rather than lead in the digital marketplace. Film was going away. Why devote so much time and energy to make it faster, cheaper, and better? The customer was moving to digital imaging. How did they miss that? Why do you miss great opportunities? Perhaps you are too caught up in comparing yourself with others rather than getting to know the uniqueness of your gift and talents and applying them to those who need your help the most.
Ask yourself: What is my unique gift? What are my unique talents? Where can I best serve? What opportunities today did I encounter where I could have applied or can apply my gift?