Life is competition.
The fittest survive and pass on their DNA.
Most competitions aren’t life and death. And truthfully, most competitions we gear up for don’t really matter that much.
But think back to the last time you lost in a battle you really wanted to win.
Did you really put it all on the line?
I think we’re programmed to keep something in reserve. Just in case.
For some people this program comes from a fear of success. If they actually win, then the story they’ve told themselves about an unjust world is proven untrue. And their entire life before has been a waste.
Others might just fear the unknown. Tim Ferriss likes to say, “people choose unhappiness over uncertainty.” The job/spouse/fill-in-the-blank we hate is safer than the chance of finding a better job.
One of my favorite film scenes comes from Gattaca. Ethan Hawke’s character and his genetically superior brother had been competing in a game of “chicken” in the ocean from the time they were kids. All growing up, the brother dominated. But there came a point where Ethan’s character finally beat him.
How did he beat his brother?
He didn’t save anything for the swim back.
Maybe we should all do this a little more often.