Thursday, 24 April 2014
And does competition drive up standards, as it's generally said to do? Look at all those jobs where competition is rife and tell me how high the standards are. Politicians? Estate agents? Journalists? Car salesmen? It's more like a race to the bottom, with principles thrown out the window in favour of being top dog and trouncing your rivals.
All too often the frantic desire to win leads to widespread cheating and fiddling - drug-taking by sportspeople, plastic surgery by models, gazumping by estate agents. Publicly it's condemned, but in private the attitude is, anything goes in order to reach the top.
I've always thought that the people who achieve the most, be it happiness, job satisfaction, a purpose in life or creative innovation, tend to be motivated not by competition but by personal standards they've set for themselves and tried to live up to or exceed. Rather than endlessly looking over their shoulder at what other people are doing, they're ploughing their own furrow and following their own impulses.
They may be aware of what others are doing, they be influenced and inspired by them, but they're not competing with them, they're simply using them as grist to the mill, as a shot in the arm.
The people who impress me most are not Oscar winners and gold medallists so much as the determined individuals who make a name for themselves solely by pursuing their own high-minded goals and meeting them. Camila Batmanghelidgh, say, or Paris Lees or Shami Chakrabarti. I take my hat off to them.