Some people encourage us to compete. Competition, they say, is what leads to excellence. Others encourage us not to compete. They say competition leads to worry, fret, and strife—and ultimately to destruction. Both are right—and also wrong. It doesn’t matter what we compete for—money, fame, social position. What matters is who we choose to compete with, because that is the person we will come to resemble. Who are more alike than two boxers?

George Bellows. “The Stag at Sharkey’s”—detail


I try to be just like this guy I like,
I dress like him; I drive his kind of car.
And when I wish, I wish upon his star.

The more I’m like him, though, the less I like
hearing people say we are alike.
And so to show them I’m not him, 

I pick a fight. I fight a match with him.
We match each other blow for blow.
He runs! I’ve won! I watch him go

Sometimes though I dream that wasn’t him.
I dream that I am who he has become.
Okay, what’s left of me? I can’t be sure.

What do I call what I am suffering from?
Is there a cure?

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