Comparison & Competition – Preparing a child for a competitive world…

“It is a competitive world out there and hence it is necessary the child should be prepared for facing the tough competition outside and come out successful.”

This is an oft repeated statement we hear from parents, teachers and the like(educators). It is also true that there is competition in nature. In a forest, each seed, seedling, plant and tree compete with other for the necessary resources to survive and grow. It is not much different even in the animal kingdom. Survival of the Fittest is the rule.

Yes!, one has to become fit to survive and grow. But there is a difference in the way by which other beings compete and the way we humans compete. Other beings compete to get that minimum required resources for it to survive and grow. Actually speaking there is no competition. Competition exists when there is comparison. How fast or how better you are doing in comparison with the other. That is competition… But, a plant or an animal does not reach out to get the resources by comparing what it has got with what others have. It just tries to get those resources required for it to grow based on its inherent capability to grow.

There is absolutely no comparison in that competition. Human beings are different. Most often, Our wants are not our needs. Our Wants are born by comparing with what others have got. We want to have a bigger car or house because others have got bigger ones and we do not want to feel low in front of them. We pressure our children to get more marks because our friend’s or neighbour’s children are getting better marks than our child’s. This psychology is very excellently depicted in a recent movie “3 Idiots”. In the scene where Madhavan gets to see the results of their first semester… he mentions that “It pains to note that your best friend has not done well. But it pains more to note that your friend has done much better than you.”

The perspective in which we look at examinations will make a lot of difference in developing the positive mindset of a child…

The purpose of examination is to know how much you have understood a subject and what are the areas you need to improve. Competitive examinations should also be viewed in an entirely different perspective. Their main objective is to simply identify the best talent in the field and allocate the limited resources available (seats in colleges / jobs) to such people so that the society is deploying its resources in an able and efficient manner for the welfare of society as a whole. This is something which educator (Parent and teacher) should realise first and pass it on to the child.

When one is not able to get selected in a competitive examination, it just means that there is someone else who can handle that role better than him and it fits to provide him with that role – either a seat in the college or a job in an organisation. Each person is good at and can excel in something in life, which is called his SWADHARMA. The education system from K-12 stage should set the platform/environment for the child to identify his Swadharma and help him excel. This will make things easier for him to handle and he can enjoy a Blissful state in whatever he does and also spread that happiness around him.

Preparing a child for a competitive world does not necessarily mean that one has to learn to be the best in comparison to others, it may and should mean that one is in a position to handle any situation in a balanced manner. Success, Name, Fame, Recognition, Money, etc.,… should be natural outcomes of joyfully excelling in doing what you are best at… following your SWADHARMA. In fact the former does not matter much when you have the latter.

If you necessarily have to compare… It should be comparison with the self, the self of yesterday and the self of today. One day at a time… small improvements and big results over a period of time. This approach will help one to remain stable even if there is not much of a change in the external environment.

To conclude… I would like to share something ace cricketer Navjot Singh Siddhu mentioned in an interview (a couple of years ago) about Shahrukh Khan. I am not able to recollect the exact words but the essence goes thus…

During his initial days in movie industry when they met – Siddhu asked him “There are stalwarts like Amitabh and likes in the industry and you have no god father. How do you intend to succeed in this competition.” For this Shahrukh answered “I am my own competition. I would like to improve upon myself. Where I stand in comparison to others is immaterial to me”… and we have seen where he has reached today. His life beautifully encapsulates the above message…

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