How the Wimbledon final gave me new insights into competition.

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How the Wimbledon final gave me new insights into competition.

I did not expect that the interview after the Wimbledon final between Djokovic and Kyrgios would be more inspiring than the match itself. Yet, that was the case.

I was moved, and not (only) by the tennis. It was mainly due to the appreciation Djokovic expressed immediately after his victory for the tennis 'enfant terrible.' A gracious winner who thanked his competitor for challenging him and pushing him to bring out the best in his game.

Two personalities each giving their unique color to tennis.

How the Wimbledon final gave me new insights into competition.

The Wimbledon final meant more than just a 'regular' final for both players.

 It marked the end of an intense period and also felt like the beginning of something new. The acknowledgment and appreciation Djokovic expressed after the match brought a lump to my throat. It felt like one human seeing another beyond all the stories and reputation. 

It also felt like gratitude.

Gratitude for finding an equal in Kyrgios.

For having to play by far the best tennis of the entire tournament. 

He even motivated Kyrgios by saying that he has the potential to play many more Grand Slam finals. As if he wants to face Kyrgios more often, feeling that he is a player who makes him better and adds color to the competition. 

That’s beauty to me.

Competition as an art

Competition has always had a negative connotation for me. I associated it mainly with ego and masculinity. Something our world has seen a bit too much of. And while that is certainly true to some extent, there is nothing inherently wrong with competition.

Competition is something that propels us forward on both an individual and collective level.

In essence, competition is not bad. It brings about positive change. That's how one of my favorite philosophers, Charles Eisenstein, sees it and how he has helped me open up to it. In a podcast with Marcus Aubrey, he says, "competition drives the human race forward."

Competition as a driver of evolution. How so?

Everything depends on how we perceive competition.

ven if it means sacrificing others and perhaps even ourselves? Or do we see it as nourishment for our own growth (and consequently for others as well)?

Do you feel a competitive urge within yourself or do you have someone in your surroundings with whom you feel a sense of competition? What happens when you fully embrace it and see it as an opportunity to grow? 

Like how Kyrgios motivated Djokovic to bring out the best in himself. There are many more examples of athletes who would not have reached such greatness without worthy opponents.

Would Ronaldo have become as good as he is if Messi did not exist? And vice versa?

While Messi may have more natural talent, Ronaldo demonstrates an unrivaled willpower. A determination and discipline fueled by the superhuman competition with Messi. Constantly pushing each other to break records and reach new heights.

And think about Max Verstappen.

Since his arrival in Formula 1, he has pushed Lewis Hamilton to his limits. He ultimately defeated Hamilton in such a remarkable way that Hamilton now needs to dig deep to make a comeback, probably deeper than he ever had to before.

And it is precisely during those moments that we must tap into forces within ourselves that we were not even aware of until then.

Those are the true titan battles. 

Titans know they need each other to become better

And when that realization sets in, there is genuine mutual respect.

Of course, this is not only applicable to athletes. Will Smith has repeatedly said that there are a million more talented actors in the world, but he excels due to his mentality. He is driven by measuring himself against others.

"Where I excel is with (a) ridiculous, sickening work ethic," zegt hij. "While the other guy's sleeping, I'm working. While the other guy's eating, I'm working. While the other guy's making love, I mean, I'm making love, too, but I'm working really hard at it!"

So, we always have the opportunity to 'use' others for our own growth.

The other person becomes the bar we want to surpass. And in doing so, we raise the bar not only for ourselves but also for the other person. Competition is not just positive for ourselves but also for others, and thus for the collective.

Competition is there for us to utilize.

It is an opportunity to draw even more from ourselves.

It keeps us sharp, drives innovation, and makes us take those extra steps that keep us ahead of our 'opponent.' Using the other person as a target to surpass ourselves.

The other person as motivation. The other person as inspiration.

Just as it helps us find motivation on a personal level, it works the same way for our businesses.

Tesla was the challenger. Now, it is being challenged. 

We can thank Tesla for the changes it has brought to the automotive industry. Elon Musk has initiated a shift towards electric cars. And now, it's Lucid's turn, with the Lucid Air, to introduce the first car on the market with a range of 1,000 kilometers. Tesla's response will not be long in coming.

Competition between companies accelerates innovation.

And thus, competition contributes to a better world.

How DGTL's sustainability accelerated that of ID&T

During my time at ID&T, we were not only leading in events, but we were also the first to have a sustainability department. While we were initially alone in this, a new generation of events soon emerged, taking sustainability to an even higher level. A competitor like DGTL, which fully embraced sustainability, accelerated our own sustainability ambitions. It's even more beautiful that the entities I mentioned (Apenkooi and ID&T) have now merged.

Can we ever achieve the necessary innovations in the world without competition? I don’t think so.

Let's embrace and honor competition.

A bit of competition kept me swimming for an extra twenty minutes

Yesterday, I swam longer than I thought I could. While earlier in the week, I managed to swim for 30 minutes without stopping, this time I was fortunate to have a fit man swimming in the lane next to me. We started at the same time, and I was determined to swim longer than he did. The 'competition' with him pushed me to reach 50 minutes this time. Exactly one lane longer than him. ;)

Fifty minutes that I didn't know I had in me before. But now I do. Thanks to the man next to me, even though he has no idea about it himself.

So... Know what you want to grow in. Know your goals. And use others to become better. Seek competition within yourself. Seek out others who inspire you. Observe what they are good at and learn from it.

Mirror yourself against others and see what you can do to grow.

Jeroen Kaatee

Founder & Coach