Second place is the first loser.
That’s what so many of us tell ourselves.
We mean it as a kind of constructive self-shaming, if such a thing can be real, a way to prod ourselves to give everything we have when we compete with others. It’s not enough to finish second–we should only be satisfied if we’re the best at whatever we try to do.
It’s a noble goal. And it can kill us if we let it.
Because if your only measure of success is to be better than everyone else, you’re probably not good enough. The chance that you are the Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt of your chosen field is vanishingly small–about one in seven billion. There is someone better.
If you ever want to be good enough, then, you’ve got to give yourself a break–and decide you’re good enough. Keep going hard, keep giving everything you have to get where you want to be. Make yourself better today than you were yesterday, better tomorrow than today.
But don’t peg your success to someone else’s defeat. There will always be someone else to defeat.