Avoiding Egocentrism and Hyper-Competitiveness

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One of my favorite quotations comes from the Jamaican bobsled coach.  Remember how the Jamaican bobsled team captured the world’s fancy?  A bobsled team from the Caribbean … how crazy is that?  They weren’t very good, but so what?  They gave it their all.

Anyway, here’s the quotation:

“If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.”

As soon as I read it, I recognized the wisdom and truth of those words.

Medals, trophies, awards, titles: they won’t fill the emptiness inside.  Oh, they’ll make you feel good for a few hours or a few days, but the feeling soon wears out.

We live in a hyper-competitive society in which it’s all about “winning,” whatever that means.  So focused are we on winning — which is usually both short-term and ephemeral — that we forget what’s really important in life.  Family, friends, health, a life of meaning and service, stuff like that.  Stuff that you may not win a gold medal for, but the stuff that truly matters.

A society based on competition and consumerism always pressures us to associate winning with acquisition.  I need that gold medal for affirmation!  And if I can’t get that, at least I can buy that Lexus SUV, that Kate Spade bag, or some other shiny object that feeds my ego.

Forget about medals and ribbons and titles.  Living a life of meaning is its own reward.

W.J. Astore

2 thoughts on “Avoiding Egocentrism and Hyper-Competitiveness

  1. A good friend wrote to me that competing to win is desirable, and I don’t disagree with that sentiment. When I play a sport, I want to win. But here’s what I wrote back to him:

    That’s why I added the modifier “hyper” to competitiveness. Nothing wrong with competition; it brings out the best in many people. But if you’re just competing for the gold — if your life has no meaning except if you win the gold — then there’s an emptiness there that gold medals will never fill.

    Like

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