The Untold Wisdom of Rivalry – J. A Kusi

The Untold Wisdom of Rivalry – J. A Kusi

There’s a phenomenon in the world that, genius and greatness in a territory often come in pair. Two rise to the top, leaving all others behind. Naturally, they are seen as rivals and everyone chooses which of them he likes better. Typically, one is a genius supremely gifted by God and the other, a marvel of the human will, aweing the world with stellar ability won through Spartan discipline. The two-name stardom phenomenon has allowed horizons to be pushed for advancements in knowledge and skill.

Tesla and Edison
Michelangelo and Raphael
Jobs and Gates
Aristotle and Plato
Freud and Jung
Newton and Leibniz
Faulkner and Hemingway
Borromini and Bernini
Voltaire and Rousseau
Messi and Ronaldo
Pele and Maradona
Federer and Nadal
Whitney and Mariah
Mayweather and Pacquiao
Eventually, their achievements and records run into and out of each other like two rivers snaking across each other; they cannot ignore each other even though they often come to resent each other. Because they are a gift to each other, they come eventually to acknowledge each other’s gifts. The existence of the one spurs the other on to greater aspiration and heights. Those who look closely will see that one of the two is a bit too much and the superior, usually, the genius, more naturally gifted; Whitney, Messi. But it does not matter at all; many will think the other the superior just as well. What is sure is that the two operate on a level no one dares dream about. Their achievements and rivalry will push the boundaries of a field.
One thing is sure; to be at that level of genius, they have to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible, every day, not allowing one moment of idleness or laziness, lest they fall back to the realm of the mortals; the very good, but not quite great. Even if naturally gifted, their work ethic and mentality is way above all others. It is the combination of their natural talents, work ethic, rigorous discipline and mental preparation that puts them above all others. What do we know?
-We feel a rivalry towards those who are similar to us in age, gender, work and ability. The liberal news media have tried to sell a rivalry between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, but they are neither equals in ability nor in achievement or star power. Therefore the supposed rivalry is a hoax.
-We are more similar to those we see as rivals than we like to think.
-What we resent in them represents the part of ourselves we do not want to admit or face, the part of ourselves we repress. It is this part of us that we reflect on our rival.
-A rivalry is an invitation of the inner self to contemplation, to overcome not the rival we see, but the inner rival of our darker selves.
-Our struggle with our competitors is really the struggle between our hidden deeper selves and our conscious selves. It is the former we project onto our rivals.
-Rivals can be antagonistic or friendly towards each other.
-If they are antagonistic, they both struggle with the pain but their competitive streak pushes their skill and work ethic beyond frontiers, advancing their fields.
-Most rivals don’t feel bitter towards each other as they grow older and wiser.
-Few rivals recognize their need for each other and see their matched skills as a reflection of their call to complement and benefit from each other for greater accomplishment.
-The rise of twin-genius is often preceded by a period of monopoly, the supremacy of one star, who takes all the spoils to himself and is sung as a lone hero. Such a hero seems to be the height of accomplishment, having no rival at his peak. But the two geniuses who come immediately after, because of the competitive streak, end up surpassing their forbear. Oscar De la Hoya was the Golden Boy and Bill Gates of boxing, he stood alone in financial earnings and star power. Following him were Mayweather and Pacquiao who both beat him with their superior boxing skills, earned more than him and became greater stars and cultural icons. Perhaps, if Floyd and Pac didn’t have each other to race to the top, neither would have surpassed Oscar. Another example is the hegemony enjoyed by IBM, which stood alone as the IT giant in the 70s and early 80s.
Following IBM was the duopoly of Microsoft and Apple. These two competed till they surpassed all boundaries of possibility, shaping the technological landscape as we know it today. The Voice Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, the Songbird Supreme were preceded by Barbra Streisand, who stood alone in her time for her brand of vocal dexterity. Whitney and Mariah both out-sang, outsold and out-starred her because they had each other to keep them on their toes. Messi and Ronaldo have both surpassed the thrilling Ronaldinho in achievement. If Ronaldinho had a rival, he would not have been drinking and partying; his career would have lasted.
-Your rival’s achievements become a measuring standard for your own progress, a sort of yardstick, a set of terms in which yours can be described. Mariah Carey’s vocal gifts became a means to reflect on and properly understand Whitney Houston’s vocal divinity. We can understand pounds in terms of kilograms. Saying A pounds equals B kilograms is not comparison or competition but units of quantity in terms of each other.
-Rivalry or the phenomenon of the great two benefits both in that, once two are marked at the same notch with each other, every achievement of the one that trumpets his greatness reflects on the other as a bonus. If Cristiano Ronaldo scores 60 goals in a season, we say “What a wonder, what a superhero he is.” But immediately we remember Messi is just as great or even greater. So Cristiano’s achievement, be it ever so unique, trumpets Messi’s too. Someone joked that the worst thing about Cristiano Ronaldo’s life is that he came in the era in which Messi was born. We can all recognize Ronaldo’s frustration that, his impossibly disciplined lifestyle and incredible footballing ability, which by far and away, should put him ahead of the pack will always be eclipsed by the divine gifts and esoteric magic of Lionel Messi. But Ronaldo need not worry, his name will go down in history just as well as Messi. That is the point.
Once Pepsi’s name got tied up with Coca-Cola, no matter what Coke did, it made Pepsi look great too cos if Pepsi wasn’t great, why would it be a rival to Coca-Cola? China’s trade war with the US and their rise to world super-power status was founded on forty years of association and close dealings with the US. This way they stole and stole till they could literally reproduce anything done by the US.
-It is the height of wisdom to join forces with your rival, to hire him into your stable, to harvest the value of his abilities, influence and skills. This way, you turn your competition into your complement. It almost looks as if you are conceding his importance, but actually you are saving time by putting away the bitter feelings of rivalry and using your competition to advance your goals. Very good lawyers end up hiring their professional adversaries, equally powerful and skilled lawyers as their personal counsel. It is usually the things in us that makes us not like our rivals that also prevent us from advancing; envy, defensiveness, combativeness, laziness, flightiness. We usually put the labels of our own faults on others. So to bury the hatchet and employ a former enemy is the height of genius. It only means you are re-outdooring the part of yourself you don’t want to face, only a better elevated version of it. So their addition to your workforce now saves you time; the parts of you that are not working well, they will complement. Rivalry is a fact of nature and life, how you use it to your benefit is up to you. Thus, for you to overcome bitterness against an enemy is the greatest favour you can do yourself.
-And so it is, that a group of bottled water brands, preachers or artistes come to share and divide the spoils of fame and power with each other. As soon as we hear of Kenneth Copeland and think of how great he is, we have to accept the greatness of Jesse Duplantis and Bill Winston as well. There is no rivalry there but they have to share the benefits of fame and influence. In the business and entertainment world, it is important to get your name in the conversation whether by association or rivalry, for notoriety will as soon or sooner gain popularity as virtue.
-If you feel a rivalry, silent or acknowledged with someone in your field of work, take it as a magnetic pull to your own aspirations for higher things. Their work is only a reflection of your own possibilities. You should not feel threatened by their achievements, but they should help you to reflect on pushing the frontiers of your own excellence.
-When Messi and Ronaldo compete against each other and on their own, each transcends himself and football wins. The disagreements between Freud and Jung created the vortex that spiraled into the ideological rift which created the science of modern psychology and the practice of psychotherapy as we know them today. Great minds do not always think alike, but argument or debate should not be for victory, but for progress.
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