9 September 2017

Ethiopia: Unhealthy Competition

opinion

Are all sorts of competition negative?

I would say no, because I have seen competition drive people to strive hard and achieve the best they can, especially in sports. But there is also another form of competition that makes people unsatisfied, nauseous, unthankful and bitter about their lives - comparing their achievement, economic status, material possession, family life and life style with others.

Hence, competition could be both positive and negative depending on the motive we have behind competing and the manner by which that competition is carried out. If we compete to do better and bring the best out of our effort, it is healthy, but if we use it with the intention to outperform for want of exhibition or to show that we are superior to others and make others feel inferior, it is definitely sick and unhealthy.

I like to analyse things and question what most people usually oversee.

So I asked myself, why is it that people with money cannot see the gap in the society's day-to-day inefficiencies and use it as an opportunity to innovate and make money instead of copying and duplicating what others are doing or have already done?

When I see the number of buildings and boutiques in Addis Abeba, it makes me question myself - do these owners, shareholders, investors do a market assessment and check its profitability before deciding to engage in these businesses?

It could be OK to start participating in such ventures as long as the demand is there but doing market research is mandatory to analyse the demand and supply.

It is not for nought that I ask these questions, but because I feel the deep rooted cause of most of the problems in our society is an unhealthy competition. It unconsciously drives people into getting something spontaneous and unplanned. For instance, most wedding, birthday and graduation ceremonies in our country are intended to show off to friends and relatives instead of celebrating the real cause. That is why we end up investing more money than we have planned and end up with financial problems.

Why do we keep being driven by the expectation of others or try to imitate others without clearly knowing why we are doing so? How does this benefit us or our loved ones? Is it worth investing our resources, our time and money, just to acquire artificial happiness? Can we not think of better ideas that could bring positive changes in the lives of many, instead of copying and pasting what others are doing?

To prove my point, there are a slew of real life accounts of the harmful environment unhealthy competition creates that I have witnessed and also has been recounted for me by friends. Once, a well-paid female employee working for an international non-governmental organisation (INGO), created unnecessary tension in a friend's office by wearing inappropriately expensive clothes, and creating an office culture where everyone is judged by the expensiveness of their outfits. I also know people who measure their success, not by their own merits, but by comparing themselves to others.

It is incredible that adults get into such a childish game while there are a lot of serious social, economic and political problems that deserve our attention. One thing that I can say about people who get into such types of competition is that they do not know themselves well, and do not have a goal in mind, as they have chosen to follow others without realising where the road will take them.

I have noticed that the tendency for competition starts at an early age. Children, early on in life, compete with their friends showcasing and bragging about what they have to shame and embarrass their peers. Unless raised and taught the right way, it could be late for most of them. This unhealthy competition is very negative for them as it isolates them from their true self, where they will be hidden behind the thoughts and acts of others. It robs them of their creative being in an area where they are supposed to shine and excel. It makes them followers instead of leaders.

As citizens of a developing nation, especially one that is located in Sub-Saharan Africa, we have so many issues to deal with, problems to solve and assignments to do. We should not be idle and spend our precious time on irrelevant matters.

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