If Others Win, Do I Lose?
It was really interesting to see childrens' comments on the Youngzine article, "Obama Hosts China's Hu". While we were delighted to see the intelligent comments, we couldnt help noticing an undercurrent of insecurity - the feeling that China's progress is a threat that the U.S. needs to worry about.
So that leads to a very interesting question for your life - If others win, do I lose?
- If someone else in your class gets better grades than you, do you need to feel bad?
- If another family is rich and can afford more things, does that make your family any worse?
- If another country is making great economic progress, does that come at the cost of your own country's progress and self-esteem?
The surprising answer to all 3 questions is not just NO, but that it is actually GOOD to have someone else succeed, especially if it can inspire you to do better!
Life is not a "zero sum equation". If someone else wins, more often than not, it has nothing to do with you and does not come at your cost. We tend to view a lot of life as a sport - where one team wins, and the other team loses. When the other person (or family, or country) does well, we tend have feelings like - "I'm so jealous", "He did not deserve it, he cheated", "Why is everyone better than me?", or "That country could use its progress to build an army and attack us".
The reality is that the world that we live in is a sum of all of our individual and collective progress, and someone else's win may actually help our own lives. That whiz kid who "beat you" in Math may go on to become a computer genius and invent that new gadget that changes your life, or start an Internet company you could buy stock in and become a millionaire yourself!
Secondly, these winners will inspire you to do better. When another student in the class consistently gets better grades, find out what makes her tick, and follow her path. When another country makes twice the progress our country is making, find out what we need to do (better education, more investment in clean energy?) that will help us get better as well.
Thirdly, when you end up winning on a few things (say, you are really good at Science), you could inspire and motivate others around you, rather than look behind your shoulder to see who is catching up. That will help you become a true leader when you grow up!
What are your thoughts?