Life is not a competition.
I am sure you have heard this before, but have you really thought about what this truly means?
You don’t have to be the best. Right now. There is no time limit on all that you have to do. While everyone is striving, you feel as if you are not. There you are feeling as if you are being left behind. All your friends have graduated and moved on to the next phase, but you my friend, are left behind. You may feel like you are one of the leftovers. The one who becomes the example of where not to be and what not to do. It is easy to feel left behind, because so many seem to follow the hustler formula. They want success and they want it quick. They have to always be on the move, always grabbing the next opportunity, the next big thing. To be a hustler has become something to be admired by many and oftentimes we are bombarded with YouTube videos and a plethora of articles that tout the benefits of the hustler mentality.
However, While we strive to get to the top as quickly as possible, we never really take the time to understand our purpose because we have become doers and not thinkers. We become burnt out trying to do a million things in twenty-four hours. I think of it as me preparing a lesson to teach, with so many activities crammed in it that the students do not have time to benefit or enjoy those activities. We become so focused on getting to the top and staying there that we deprive ourselves of the experience of enjoying the moments that matter, those moments that will remain with us when all those positions and wealth mean nothing.
A lot of us lose the things we have because we focus too much on what we do not have. The hustle culture that has emerged and which a lot of persons try to cultivate comes from a place of insecurity for many. A place where they always compare themselves to others and strive for things that they were never meant to hide. So you may know someone who has been on the hustler grind for a very long time and is still waiting their turn to get to the top. There you are, looking in from the outside, you realise that all they do is go in circles but never truly grow and are never close to the summit they crave to conquer.
I recently looked at the story of Saul and David, both were Kings of Israel and the lesson of the story is timeless. There are so many lessons actually but for me in considering the story what stood out, was how foolish Saul was to allow his envy and jealousy of David to destroy his life. It began with a celebration that quickly turned sour and it was a turning point that destroyed Saul’s legacy:
-: Saul Envies David
…6 As the troops were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs, and with tambourines and other instruments. 7 And as the women danced, they sang out: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” (1 Samuel 18: 6-7)
Saul was at the top of his game, the big man, he was King! Until, a young boy with humble beginnings, like him, came into his line of vision stole some of his shine and he was no longer happy with all his previous achievements and the privilege of being King. He was a King but he was not satisfied. He needed records, numbers greater than anyone to prove he was great.
Why do people hustle? Why is it so important to be the greatest, to have persons bow at your feet because out of everyone else, you made it. But made it where? How much higher can you go than being a King? Even at the top, Saul was discontent, disillusioned and at the end, fiercely bitter. He felt that David’s growing popularity and success was a direct reflection on him. Like Saul too many of us get too caught up in the lives of others and what they are doing, achieving or “winning” at. We feel if they succeed it may show us up. Then all of a sudden everyone begins to question, “what about you, what have you done lately?” Sometimes before someone asks the questions of our legitimacy, we begin to destroy it, by comparing ourselves to others and then come up short, woefully inadequate, headed for failure. Though this was not the case a few minutes before.
Saul’s strength and courage was buried under a need for approval and the fear of being criticized. This is seen when he tries to regain favour in the eyes of his army and people by making a sacrifice that was never his to make. This need to always be favourable in the eyes of others, to always be number one, even if it means making compromises, can be seen by many who strive to succeed at any cost.
11 And Samuel said, “What have you done?”
Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, 12 then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13: 11-12 )
Saul was so focused on being better, when he was already good, in being highly favoured, when he already was; he last it all because he neglected to notice all the great things he had going for him. It was a real tragedy that such a great man allowed his insecurities and fear of rejection to completely Stifle the potential of who he could have been.
So, the story of Saul becomes a cautionary tale, of how competition can go bad and lead a person to self-destruct. Take note even as you aim to be the best you that you can be.