You’ll find today’s often-misunderstood Awesome Sauce trait (the Traits that Make Life Great) at the heart of love, humility, happiness and success. Today’s podcast explains and explores how to see your world in a new way which transcends fears and empowers you to become more of a winner than ever.
Welcome to the University of Life podcast. I’m your host, Shaun Roundy, and I got the “Top Quality” trophy at work a while back, which gets passed around every month along with a $25 gift card to recognize certain aspects of our performance. I appreciated that, and, naturally, posted it to social media along with the explanation that “I just got this for being the BEST.”
I didn’t really mean that, I just said it for fun, just trying to keep life a little more colorful than it sometimes gets.
Who knows, maybe I really was “the best”, but I was surrounded by great people and employees, and even if you could actually measure and verify which of us was “best”… who cares? What difference would that make? I’m me, they’re them, and a trophy doesn’t change anything.
For better and worse, striving for superiority is deeply ingrained not only in our cultures, but in human nature itself. We can credit it with glorious triumphs and technological advancements, and perhaps also blame it for the majority of human suffering and misery.
You may be surprised to learn that you can divide competition into two categories – healthy and unhealthy, and today’s podcast will not only teach you to recognize the difference, but also present you with a brand-new perspective that you’ll probably want to incorporate more of into your life.
I’d like to point out a word, this perspective, which I keep running into lately. It lies at the HEART…of heart, actually, and love and humility and happiness, respect, excellence, independence and success.
If you want to become a real winner, and enjoy the most delightful benefits of winning, this is one of the best ways you can do it. So listen up and then ask yourself if it’s worth widening your view of how life works.
This perspective TRANSCENDS comparison and competition, and you could call it equality or independence, or, even better, Unity.
Unity happens when you view others laterally, not hierarchically. You don’t have to be the same, and it’s okay to say I’m better at this and you’re better at that, because the fact that you’re smarter and I’m better looking, or you’re richer and I’m more creative, or you’re tall and I speak French does not make you or me better overall.
Who’s “better” overall is not a question that unity even bothers to ask, because it simply does not care. Unity has much better things to worry about.
Unity also understands that if you win, I don’t necessarily lose. Most of the time, we’re all in the same boat, and we sink or swim together.
Unity rises above the games which say that “Second place is the first loser,” and it removes the sting of someone else being “better” than you.
Unity grants you permission to accept yourself as you are, and it cures the social anxiety that comes from worrying that you’re not good enough to be loved.
Unity allows you to celebrate other people’s victories, both large and small – and isn’t celebration the whole reason you were hoping to come out on top in the first place?
With unity, there’s no need to wait until you’ve subdued all your foes, you can enjoy the positive vibes of celebrating Right Now, whether it’s your success or someone else’s.
Unity doesn’t have to get the last word in an argument. Seriously? Did you honestly believe that makes you the winner? Does that make your ideas the best? Does that persuade whoever you’re arguing with? Or is it just a childish, ego-centric power play? I think the answer is…D, so if you’re ready to grow up, now may be the ideal time for that.
Years ago, I met a girl. She was smart, cute, fun, and bold. My favorite thing I remember he saying is, “You’re a fool if you don’t see our potential,” which was fun and flattering.
I tell you this story as a test. Your reaction helps reveal where you stand on the unity-competition continuum.
If you thought, “That’s cool, I’m sure you appreciated that,” then you’re standing well on the side of unity.
If you thought, “Whatever, why should I care about that?” then you’re probably somewhere in the middle.
And if you thought, “What a braggart! How vain! What an oversized ego you have that you need to tell the world that some rando girl was interested in you!” then you’re stuck in unhealthy competition, too worried about others getting proud rather than celebrating their successes and wishing for everyone to win.
That day was a little bright spot for me, and I don’t know about you, but I need my bright spots, because things don’t always turn out so well.
I remember that she was surprised and impressed when I shared my opinion that the best leaders make themselves dispensable, even invisible.
They don’t have to be the larger-than-life figurehead taking credit for every victory and passing down the blame for every failure. What kind of leader would that be? What effect would that have on your employees? Why should they give their best effort and take pride and ownership of your organization’s success if they know they won’t get to enjoy any of the spoils of victory?
No, the unity-oriented leader lifts up those below them, they encourage and draw out the best in others and shape everyone into winners.
Here are a pair of supporting quotes I like to illustrate this:
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader
“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” – Orrin Woodward
(btw you’ll find tons more great quotes about leadership and other topics at quotes.UofLIFE.com – go there and type leader and see what you learn.)
Now let’s talk about the up-side of competition, because just because you’re unity-minded doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy competing and winning and being the best.
I used to think I wasn’t competitive. I was a hyper-sensitive little kid and wanted everyone to do well, and I had the idea that if I did better than others, then they would have to do worse and that might make them feel bad.
I played league soccer for a few years, and I was able to play hard on the field because I didn’t focus on beating the other team, but on enjoying teamwork – celebrating good passes, good blocks and saves, and such.
As it turns out, I also didn’t need to worry about beating the other team, because at least in my last year, that never happened until the bitter end.
I’ll tell that complete story another time. I’ve baked it into a really good chapter of my upcoming Happiness 101 book.
Then one Halloween, I ran a 5K with my girlfriend. We went dressed as ice climbers, complete with our ice axes and a rope tying us together.
But not far into the race, her knee started bothering her so she couldn’t run anymore. I walked along with her for a while, but then…other runners started passing us. As they did, I realized…I didn’t much like that. I wanted to run! I wanted to be the one passing others!
We acted out a dramatic little scene where she shouted, “Cut me loose! Save yourself!” and I shouted back, “No! I’ll never leave you!”, but eventually, I untied the rope from my harness and handed her my ice tools, then took off after the others.
It felt good to run hard, good to pass other runners, I ended up winning third place in my division, I got a little ribbon, and my illusions about not being competitive were shattered forever.
But let me be perfectly clear. I did not consider myself better than the runners I passed. Faster, sure. Or maybe I just tried harder. But more inherently valuable? That’s nonsense. It’s meaningless. The only race that matters is the one you run with yourself.
So go ahead and run. Be the best! But don’t look down – or up! – at others. Look across at them.
Recognize that you’re just as worthy of love and happiness as they are. Just as deserving of the space you occupy on this planet as we all pass through our lives.
Not everyone will love and appreciate you. Not everyone will see your worth as clearly as perhaps they should. That’s okay. That’s just life. That’s the way it goes. Deal with it.
But once you develop an internal sense of value, once you take a lively interest in your own thoughts and efforts and dreams, you won’t need others’ esteem so much. You won’t have to be afraid anymore.
Another way to develop this unity mindset and ditch unhealthy competition is to win, and win BIG. Be the absolute, unquestioned, universally recognized best. Perhaps then you can give up the struggle to win everyone’s respect – or envy, and then you can look around and figure out how to enjoy your victory, if it’s not too late.
But if you’ve stepped on everyone else’s faces to get there, then you’re bound to find it very lonely at the top.
On the other hand, if you make a habit of lifting others around you, they’re likely to return the favor and help you arrive on top that much sooner. When you get there, you’ll find yourself in the company of friends.
Finally, if you think all this is a good idea, then do the right thing, visit UofLIFE.com/podcast or Facebook.com/UofLIFE or u_of_life on Instagram and share it. Ideas change lives, but not if people never get the chance to hear and consider those ideas. Thank you for sharing.
Until next time, keep being great students in the University of Life – live smart, live well, live happy!