I volunteer two times a week at a local school doing junior youth groups. I am normally used to groups of about 10 junior youth but these have about 30 in each group, so it’s difficult to keep track! They are such a contrast to the junior youth that I animated in Madrid for these kids are far more polite and respectful and have a thirst for knowledge.
( On the topic on what junior youth group is, the best I can explain is through some animated drawings I have done so stay tuned )
While I was animating, a woman came in who is doing another volunteer program`came into the room. She was part of a volunteer program who teaches English and promotes values. She announced that there would be a competition with every grade : Whomever got the best improved grade, was the cleanest and showed the most virtue would become a “Virtue Girl” and only the top person would get it. They would then receive an awesome prize.
I could see the 11 year olds eyes open wide with excitement. While I appreciate the sentiment, the main problem I have with it is the fact that you are creating an environment of competitiveness based on an event or a prize. The problem with the Dog Eat Dog mentality is that in order to become better, someone else has to become Worse.
I have always hated the idea of competition. It always gave a sense of Not Being Good Enough and not fitting into a very square box of standards which most people can barely live up to. Those who can spend a good amount of time and energy keeping themselves there.
Women are taught that in most professions, we have to compete with each other for the One Spot. A lot of catty behavior and jealousy ensues with this sense of competitiveness. We are taught a very limited paradigm that it is a Man’s World. ( Which is , in essence a very limited social construct )
I myself have become an unwilling target to women’s competitiveness in the workplace and it isn’t pretty. We are taught, in essence, that there is only One Winner. Not only is this creating an unhealthy, paternalistic and unproductive working environment but it only leads people to a limited viewpoint based on limited labels. There is also numerous studies pointing towards a new way to go about progressing in our world.
When the woman left , I tried to ask questions with the girls on why working together for service projects and trying to think beyond terms of events and think about working within their communities was important.
One of the things we talked about was how important it is to use our knowledge to give back to the community we are in. We can benefit far more with working together in our diverse and specialized traits and qualities. Not only does this give us a sense that everyone has worth, it also helps everyone not to be left behind and battle a sense of worthlessness.
I hope they do not have to through what I went through till I fully understood this. In the end, there are no winners in this process only people working towards a new system of learning how to engage and grow together.
To fully understand this concept, we need to redefine the concept of power and worth. We believe that being the Best and Powerful equates to strength and survival of the fittest. But what of the power of love? What of the power of generosity and mutual understanding?
I truly believe that if we work together, we can truly become greater for it. This is how I have tried to conduct my life in business, in my personal life and in my studies. If we admit we are not Better and we Do Not Know Everything, we can try to form a mutual understanding to finding the answers together. In the process this will lead for all of us to become better for it.