I am in competition with myself - With who I was yesterday

“To be a champion, compete; to be a great champion, compete with the best; but to be the greatest champion, compete with yourself.”Matshona Dhliwayo

6 mins read

T his perhaps sounds self-serving, but I must admit that for many years I have been trying to outdo and outwit myself with marked success.

Imagine that you are in a race. Competing with others. Gunning for an ultimate reward. A prize that would cap all the efforts you put in preparing for the race. But right in front of you are a couple of your competitors running in measured but strong strides and all you see is the dust their trampling feet unsettle as they pace on.

You know that in order to win this race you must catch up with them. And then you mentally decide to target the competitor closer to you. You figure that he is oblivious of your decision to make him your moving target. And as you rev up your effort and channel more physical energy into your race, you inch closer and closer to that competitor. By the time he hears the patter of your feet, he quickly puts energy to his legs, but you whizz past him too quickly before he can garner the speed required to match your pace.

And then you look ahead of you to the next competitor, he notices that you are on a mission to outwit him and takes a quick distracting look backwards to assess the situation. But he isn’t prepared for the consistency and strength of your pace and in a determined burst of energy, you edge the only other competitor ahead of you and take the lead position in the race.

You are now ahead of everyone else, determined to win the race, but the competition only just began. This is because it is much easier to win a race or rise to the top than it is to keep being at the top. In the same vein that you just raced past the other competitors, they are eager to pay you back in the same coin. Alas not just one of them, but the ones you raced past in your effort to stay up and the ones who already aspire to beat you to the coveted prize.

So how then do you stay ahead of the game? What then motivates the desire to stay ahead and strongly? What then drives the will to keep ahead in the unforgiving race against time in this life of never-ending challenges?

The competition of life is not designed to be a flash in the pan, it isn’t a one-time event. Every new challenge has been designed to eclipse the previous one – to match your growth, your experiences, your advancement and your knowledge. 

To stay ahead of the competition requires a conscious and deliberate approach to life. Motivation from inside so strong that it doesn’t matter if others think it isn’t worth the trouble. What only matters is how you see the future and clarity about what you need to do to get there.

Please do not be fooled into believing that you must win all life’s battle. While this itself is practically impossible, you simply cannot win all the competitions, all the battles. In some of the competition you will consciously lose while in others, you will be well and truly beaten. But this will only represent one battle in the long twisting turn of Life. When you lose one battle, you pick yourself up and carefully pick the next battle. 

One important learning from our failure to win every competition or battle is to always understand what made the difference and to consciously ensure that you now have that skill, competency, values developed and honed for the next battle and challenge. That is how to grow!

We do not grow by sitting idle and sulking in a corner when we fall to superior talent and cynical or even dubious gamesmanship. We grow by applying ourselves to learn, to be better than we were yesterday, to be better than the odds we faced, to stand out, to be the best.

And that, dear folks, is why I am in constant competition with myself. Trying to outdo myself. Pushing the limits, questioning the odds, changing the narratives and redefining the competition. While I still chase the pack ahead, taking each leader one after the other, ahead of me is the winding track waiting to be conquered and beckoning that I own it, then I always choose to beat my previous best. Setting and breaking my speed, making the competition behind me work really hard to win the coveted prize.

This requires a bit of mental tenacity, a strong values system, discipline and determination. 

Hear this, if you do not have a plan for getting into life’s race, you will simply fall into others nicely crafted plans. You will help make their stories great. Until you have a sense of your own direction and plans, you can not have a genuine motivation to compete at the highest level.

How do you compete with the best without arming yourself with everything it takes to compete? 

Winning the battle takes extra effort and more than we thought possible. But it’s there if we want it. We must accept the challenge and we must do so with a spirit of courage that embraces risk.

If you’re not willing to risk, if you just want to play things conservatively and hope for the best, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The conservative route is a loser’s strategy, and yet so many people think minimizing risk in life’s ventures is the right way to play.

Starting point is to learn

Never ever stop learning. Everyday get to learn something new. Fill in that vast space inside your head that God has created for learning. Don’t carry yourself with nothing but gossip and small talk. LEARNING IS CONSCIOUS. It is deliberate. You must choose to learn. And whatever you choose to learn must be necessary and important to achieving your goal and objectives.

To compete you must then study your competition. Those ahead of you in the game! What has given them the edge? How did they remain so relevant? Check out their background, their routine. We only become good at what we constantly practice.

Then pick your Battle/competition.

Choose your battles wisely. Fight only the most, most, most important ones, let the rest go.

 Do not bite more than you can chew. Understand that life is a journey, a process and there are steps that must precede all the eureka moments. Stop fooling yourself thinking skipping one step would help you. Yes perhaps in the short run, but certainly not for the long haul. Yes, a few people skid steps in life and still turn out pretty fine. But what do we really know? 

Think deeply at your colleagues, friends, family you know whoever skipped Primary class 6. How did they turn out? How mature did they get? Would they have preferred a different scenario? Perhaps I am speaking to you!

To compete you must apply discipline to your every learning. 

I ask that people live inside their bodies! Be self-aware. Be alive! Be conscious! 

Every action comes from a place of knowledge or experience. Stop allowing Life toss you about like a yoyo. Wake up and live! God has given you everything you need to fight life’s battle, stop hiding in your self-induced cocoon of misery. 

You must win the battle within before you can conquer the world. Prepare yourself because you are the only one holding you back!

This reminds me of one quote from my dad that I adore so very much;

“The toughest battle you’ll ever fight in your life is the battle within yourself.” — Anonymous

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell”

Make yourself the best you can be, stop looking at your limitations and your worries and fears. Keep your head up, pick the next competition, the next life’s battle and set out to conquer the world. 

There is nothing like natural confidence, confidence comes from accomplishment – of winning the battle and achieving results. It’s those results that build up confidence in you.

Be in competition with yourself, because your race in Life is against time. And time waits for no man!



14 thoughts on “I am in competition with myself”

  1. This is thought provoking. It’s a tonic needed to revitalise a complacent soul. It’s precise, concise and succinct.

    A part that is so profound is:

    “To stay ahead of the competition requires a conscious and deliberate approach to life. Motivation from inside so strong that it doesn’t matter if others think it isn’t worth the trouble. What only matters is how you see the future and clarity about what you need to do to get there.”

    That’s the discipline needed.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. It’s educative and inspiring.

    God bless you.

  2. Ubong Akpadiaha

    Very many thanks for the motivation, Dr. Myles Munroe had echoed the subject matter “You are not competition with anybody but with yourself”. Thus, your goal is to be the best of yourself always till your called up to Glory.
    Very many thanks for the steps required to this feat.
    I will say, “Let the games begin”.

  3. Adedamola ilori

    Thanks Akin,another reason I lack the strength not to read from you. Thumbs up brother.

    Thanks Lateef for your comments,didn’t need to add more

  4. Thanks for this nice piece, most men doubt their capabilities until they can reach within themselves to discover the ocean of abilities there-is within them.
    Just like proverbs will say: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and it is the honor of a king to search out the matter”
    God conceals our abilities within us, it is our glory to search out the abilities, but only few are able to search it out.

    Thanks once again for the piece.

  5. Very motivational. One should just continue pushing hard irrespective of the challenges encountered. Keep it up broo. More greatness and success awaits you

  6. Akin, this is a thought-provoking challenge for me. All these I have been engaging myself on, but couldn’t figure it out until after reading this article.
    The digest in the last but one paragraph of the write-up is actually for me.. It has been an unannounced drive that keeps me going.
    Thank you Akin. I wish you happy anniversary.

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