If I’m honest, pretty damn good actually.
There’s a common theme amongst men when we’re younger; it all starts when we’re trying to fit in. Some men will walk to the ends of the Earth to fit in, whilst others will get inwardly angry at themselves because life doesn’t seem quite right; it doesn’t slot in like it should, and it’s not plain sailing like others have it. Me? I have no interest to fit in and I’m very happy with myself. Fitting in with other guys would mean that I’d have to walk their walk and talk their talk, slotting into an already hardened group dynamic isn’t the easiest thing to do on the best of days. I have no interest in that. Gone are my days of parading my balls around shouting that mine are the biggest. Now society fits in with me or not at all. I enjoy that.
It’s funny that we think we leave school behind when we go onto college or work, but we never really do. College is like school but with lecture halls, work is like school but with more than one teacher, and retirement homes are like school but with wheelchairs. I describe group dynamics of course, they never really change. There’s always someone parading their big balls around for the world to see whilst the rest of the group helps prop their testicles up. There’s always someone trying to lead, and always someone trying to fit in; sometimes we accept this dynamic, other-times we kick against it. We become mainly accepting the older we become.
I’m done with trying to lead or fit in, both are flawed, and both feed into the same old societal bullshit that we try to fight against time and time again but never seem to draw any conclusions from. There are a group of Mums at my sons School that I watch as they hang in their neat little group whilst the other Mums and Dads try to fit into their cool gang; just like when we were at school. I doubt they are even aware the atmosphere they are creating. I’m one for diversity and inclusion, so when I am head honcho everyone gets a chance to be included, and I happily step back when someone else braves leadership. It’s no contest. It never was.
When I was younger I was a very competitive young man. I’d try and beat my friends at everything, be the best at anything that was presented to me and I’d get quite upset when I couldn’t beat everyone else. I was heading down the fast lane to a very toxic way of thinking, even competitors should recognise the achievements of others when they are beaten — I sucked at this. I would cry at home; beat myself up because I wasn’t good enough, run over every moment of the competition as to find some flaw of my opponents to expose next time, and sometimes these were just maths tests for fuck sake.
Perhaps ten years ago I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned progression through collaboration. I began to learn that focusing on my opponent’s faults weren’t doing me any good, they were in fact hindering my progress in all walks of life. I’d pedestal my friends and wonder why I wasn’t achieving what they had — they all had houses, wives, successful jobs, and there was me, single in a broken down flat with a summer job that paid minimum wage. I realised that my competitiveness was holding me back, that my anger and frustration towards other people doing better than me was stopping me from the thing that truly mattered,
I had been so blindsided by watching everyone else succeed that I forgot to pay attention to what it would take for me to be successful. Fuck what everyone else was doing
What the hell was I doing?
Competition is a flawed concept when competing against others, in my eyes, anyway. I finally get why schools try to give every kid an award now; it’s not because little Johnny was last and they feel bad for him, no, it’s because he tried his fucking best and that’s all that should matter, right? I come from an archaic generation that were big on competition and of course, only the super fit, and the intelligent were given the prizes; it’s flawed, because we failed to recognise the achievements of the others that gave their best. We still do that to an extent, we still put kids against each other and tell them this is how it is.
Yeah, I get it, the world isn’t fair and not everyone wins, but shouldn’t we be teaching them that the only thing that should matter in life is that you are achieving better than you did ten months ago? That way they will strive to compete against themselves and get a better, and fairer, and more accurate representation of how well they are doing? Rather than putting the heavy kid next to the regional sprinting champion?
One of my favourite sayings is,
“If you try to teach a fish how to climb a tree it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid”
I only compete against myself. That way I get to adequately recognise the achievements of others doing waaay better than me and also bring up the egos of the people still a few lengths to catch up.
In my work life, I have learned to recognise the benefits of progression through collaboration. It’s the concept of pulling from a team to benefit each and every person from the team, including myself. We exchange ideas, challenges, projects, etc to better understand ourselves and work together for better outcomes. I work best with people that are only competing against themselves; that way we can truly work together to reach our own business and personal goals.
I feel society hasn’t caught up thus far. I feel we are still locked in a game of cat and mouse. People still think we are in a kill or be killed situation. It really doesn’t have to be like that. I believe everyone strives for a better world.
Perhaps it starts with you.