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Why Competitiveness?


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How do we explain and defend the fact that not everyone has to be competitive?  There seems to be a push now that all children must be - and are failures if they are not - competitive.  I have heard from one young mother after another.  Her child is good at what he/she does but the mother wishes he were more competitive.  We need competitive people, yes.  They follow a useful path.  But so do non-competitive people.


I once read a story.  A  girl was applying for admission to a prestigious university which bragged about producing great leaders.  In the application, there was a request that the parent write a letter also, explaining why he thought his daughter would benefit from their university.  The father wrote:  "My daughter is not, and never will be, a leader but she is an excellent follower."   A reply came back saying "Send her along.  We need more followers and fewer leaders."


I feel the same about this "make everyone competitive" craze that is raging.  How do we defend against it?  Is it a healthy attitude -  this "be competitive",  "must win at all costs" attitude?





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Doesn't competitive drive come about naturally from biology?  If you watch other animals, they all compete for the ability to produce as many offspring as possible.


Personally, I think competition overall is a good thing.  In the best of circumstances it propels us to do better.  It is the "at all costs" part that becomes the problem.


I find your story about the prestigious university a bit troubling.  I would say we need more people who know when to lead and when to follow.  We should all be aware of our strengths and weaknesses.  Those with the best abilities should be willing to step up and take control when their abilities are needed, and those same people should learn to recognize when they need to step aside and let someone else step in.

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