Competition, the stuff of failure

Now I’m not a very competitive person.

I blame my parents.

We didn’t really “do” football. My father rebelled against his parents by rejecting their religion of cricket. We did race sailing boats but my father never really set out to win and my mother got migraines from the sparkles on the water.

A confluence of middle-class guilt and socialism led to success being associated with deep guilt. Winning was evidence of the fundamental inequity in the capitalist regime. Of course I won. I had the benefits of engaged, articulate parents, a stimulating environment packed with the resources that only hard work and professional success can buy.

In fact my parents brought me up to understand that success should be redistributed. Taking their weird confused world view to a logical conclusion the winner of the FA cup should be relegated as a punishment and have its first team redistributed to a random selection of non league clubs ((unless it was Newcaste United)) ((actually that sounds pretty ace to me… see what I’m up against)).

So I struggle with the whole concept of competition in principle.

This is a disadvantage in freelancing which is a competitive environment.

You are probably pretty relaxed about this.

You probably weren’t brought up by yoghurt weavers.

You probably support a football team, can understand the offside rule and wept just a little bit at Euro 96 ((or celebrated depending on nationality)).

Even so you are going to struggle having competitors.

Because, despite what you may believe, say and have read, following professional sport is merely recreation. It is not war by other means. It is not a crucial aspect of your existence.

It does not, when all is said and done, matter that much.

Where as in business it does matter. The difference is you see that in business your competitors can make you starve, throw your family into penury and hurl you into the deep pit of bankruptcy.

Which genuinely does matter.

Some people find this stimulating. The real and imminent prospect of their dog starving, of their children going without shoes, their mortgage being foreclosed gets them out of bed in the morning. It provides a measure for them to measure themselves by. Their identity becomes intertwined with keeping their family from penury.

They follow the teachings of Lao Tzu, studying and understand their competitors as though they were an enemy army. They plan their strategy and tactics to leave no room for error, to crush their opponents, to grind them into the dust, to destroy them utterly and wipe them from the face of the earth.

Those people will not fail at freelancing.

But you probably wouldn’t want to spend any time in their company.

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