Competition. Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their friends! Ace that test, make the cheerleading team, win the championship, land that big contract, bankrupt your peers, make the most money, get the most awards, and look the best on Facebook! Winning, yeah, competition is all about singular winning, with everyone else worthy of scorn and ridicule. Get yours or get nothing.
At least, right from the get-go, that’s how competition is presented to us.
Thing is, that wasn’t really the original meaning for the word. The Latin root from which we get compete, competere, instead means “strive in common; strive after something in company with or together.”
To compete does not require turning everything into a zero-sum equation.
As William McDonough put it: “It means the way Olympic athletes train with each other. They get fit together, and then they compete. The Williams sisters compete – one wins Wimbledon. So we’ve been looking at the idea of competition as a way of cooperating in order to get fit together.”
Inside this broader view of competition, we leave less destruction in our wake. We begin to truly play games – games that enliven us without all the extra layers of significance we’ve piled on. We empower ourselves and those around us, leading to even better games and better conclusions. We get to be supported and grow together. And we gain freedom from unnecessary stress, consternation, and mental duress*.
Best of all, we get to have way more fun.
* Which, amusingly, all work to hinder our performance in the game. We feel worse, do worse, and suffer more under the outcome!