As a cyclist races towards the finish line of a stage of the Tour-de-France, whom is he competing against?
On the surface, this answer seems obvious. The Tour-de-France is a race where cyclists compete against one another. Yet, deep down, every cyclist in that race’s deepest wish is to be the best possible cyclist they can ever be. Their ultimate goal is intrinsic, and the competition is merely a means for them to get there.
Our genes push us into competition. Evolution has rigged our genes to compete, and these genes predispose us to one-upmanship. But of course, there is more to us than merely our genes.
The ancient Greeks defined the best part of ourselves as our daemon. Our daemon pushes us to self-actualize while guarding against the forces of mediocrity, self-doubt, complacency and at times, genetics. It cares less about the competitor than about the enemy within us that holds us back.
When our daemon takes precedence, our opponent is the limitation within. From this perspective, our competitor turns into our ally and our genes turn into our catalyst.
When our genes take precedence, our competitor morphs into the opponent and winning often comes at the cost of the daemon – the best part of ourselves.