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Be Better Than Yourself #BeBetterThanYourself

by Vidya Sury April 2, 2018 24 comments
Be better than yourself #AtoZChallenge #PersonalDevelopment #inspirational #parenting

The exams are over.

Today, the results will be announced.

Students are gathered for the morning school assembly. As usual, the top three achievers in each class/grade will be mentioned as “toppers.”

Those who don’t make the list will experience a range of emotions.

Some will determine to work harder.

Some will feel dejected.

Some will be indifferent.

All will have some anxiety about what their parents will say when they see their report card. One thing is certain—they will quote the example of the “toppers” and most probably say, “why can’t you be like (insert name)?”

It always makes me a little sad to see how it is the norm to compare and compete, right from the time one is in school and often, throughout life.

Why is there a need to always be better than someone else? Why confine yourself to the standards set by someone else. Perhaps you can do much better.

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”

— William Faulkner

It is heartening to see that corporate brands like ITC Classmate, which caters to this whole student and parent community is coming forward and promoting this social awareness.

In its new marketing campaign, or rather—social drive—brand Classmate takes on the theme “Be Better Than Yourself” and reaches out to all stakeholders: students, parents, teachers and even employees.

It challenges the long-standing assumption on the nature of competition. While life is a competition, it is not a race against anyone. You are your only true rival. And achieving your unrealized potential, is the only true measure of success.

“Be Better Than Yourself” kicks off a crusade against such a prevailing view and how it shapes kids as they grow up.

It revolves around thought-shifting, culture-changing exercises aimed at moving perceptions on both education, and its real purpose. Which is to strive to better oneself, with every passing day, with every passing effort.

Imagine providing a pressure-free, happier environment for our children to grow, learn and live in!

I saw this heart-warming video from Classmate on TV recently.

Even as I smiled at the Mother’s response, I couldn’t help thinking back to that time when I used to be anxious about not being at the top of the class and losing the position by one mark.

However, I was fortunate to grow up in a family that never put pressure on being “the best” in terms of academic performance or otherwise. In fact, my Mother always urged me to set personal goals. She inculcated the belief in me that the only person I needed to compete with was myself. She said, “Always ask yourself: is this the best you can do?” This took the pressure off me. Eventually, I did excel in academics and also follow my passion and do well in everything I took up!

We have tried to instill the same value in our son—that motivation must come from within and not as a result of competing with someone else. Even now, as he slogs through a tough course, we tell him that it is more important to learn and achieve the personal satisfaction that he’s doing better than before, than chase grades.

With exam fever at its peak, it is all about extreme competition, thanks to our education system. Success is seen as being better than someone but it doesn’t have to be that way. Children, as they go through school and college, are almost always compared with others – their classmates and peers. Our society is so achievement-oriented that they are conditioned to perceive “others” as competition.

  • What if we encouraged children to focus on improving themselves based on milestones they set for themselves?
  • What if we understood that the most important part of competing with ourselves is being able to set our own values and metrics? We choose goals that fit us best and what we really want to compete on—and what we don’t.
  • Why not chase your future self?
  • Why not set only your personal values and ambitions ahead of you?
  • Why not be judged on your own metrics and not someone else’s? Thing is… if you win, you are doing something that’s important to them, not to you.

The real purpose of education should be to strive to better oneself, day after day, with every effort, shouldn’t it?

Do we need to “fight with others” at all?

Why is life full of competition?

Isn’t there space for everyone to express herself?

There usually is. However, it often seems to happen that different people seem to wish to earmark a particular spot as their own. Therein lies rivalry which is not always friendly. We all know that the race is not always to the swiftest. However, even if it seems that way for a while, in the long run, we know that it all evens out. So, how does an apparently less able person reach the same exalted position which she could never dream of earlier as practical?

It is based on one word—self motivation.

“The rise to the top is a battle against oneself, and a journey with others.”

Sergei Bubka created world record after world record. He had nobody to challenge him. So, what did motivate him? Of course, it has to come from within and from a sense of not having done your best. It has NOT to do with external factors. Otherwise, Bubka would have created one or two world records and gone away.

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone tries to light that fire under you, chances are that it will burn very briefly.”

And yes, it is fine to lose sometimes and perhaps do worse than before. There are days when it is quite alright—and enough—to remain static, because there will be days when you unexpectedly find yourself leaping forward.

Whatever happens, when you are your own competition, you assess yourself based on what really matters to you.

“I look in the mirror, my only opponent.”

How will you motivate yourself, your child today?

Will you Be Better Than Yourself?

Be the best version of you. Be better than yourself #AtoZChallenge #PersonalDevelopment #Parenting

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Ramya Abhinand April 2, 2018 at 8:52 am

Most often in life. the answers are all from within us. Its a choice we make to try to be better, better than ourselves. to improve what we already are. Thats a lovely video of classmate, motivating in every way. And in this world of extreme competition I do try telling my chilren to set their goals to better themselves. But well the competition around is so evident and the pressures are high on children . Wish such a thing seldom existed.

Balaka Basu April 2, 2018 at 12:18 pm

Today when my son comes back from school I will make him read your post. This is such an inspiring post. Hugs to you.

Vidya Sury April 2, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Wow, you just made me happy that I published this today. I would love to know what he thinks! Thanks Balaka!
Vidya Sury recently posted…An Act of Kindness #AtoZChallenge

Shilpa Garg April 2, 2018 at 12:38 pm

We all are work in progress and each day we should strive to do better than yesterday. That way we call can become best version of ourselves. As parents we should inspire our kids to do the same too and not give in to the competition that is prevalent everywhere. A lovely video. Thanks for sharing, Vidya 🙂

Tamara April 2, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I just lost my comment 🙁
I said I liked that the girl got the chocolate cake even though she knew her grade wasn’t all that great, but her Mom rewarded her for her hard work and that’s what it’s all about.

Vidya Sury April 2, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Awww, sorry, Tamara! I appreciate you for trying again! Hugs! Yes, I loved what her Mom did!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Be Better Than Yourself #BeBetterThanYourself

G Angela April 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Such warm post vidya, I agree that we must help the children to compete with oneself, unfortunately what we see around us in our day to day lives is just the opposite. Things are improving now… otherwise every parent wants their child either to be a doctor or engineer and the race begins from early years of schooling. I remember when my daughter was in class 8 the school sent us a notice asking us to sign a form which was training the students for IIT. knowing my daughter’s limitation I wrote back to the school and even spoke to the principal that we are not interested as we are aware of our daughter’s capacity and I did not allow my daughter to join. (which means that after the school there will be another one hour of special class) .Today at the university level too there are suicides because of this competition and its very sad. I loved the video of class mate,so important to affirm and appreciate children and look at the positive side of their scores.. thanks for sharing:)

Shilpa Gupte April 2, 2018 at 5:30 pm

You know, Vidya, when I was in school, I really wasn’t great at academics, and would often get compared with my cousins who were far better. It made me lose all my self-confidence and my morale would be really low. I hated going to school because others there did better than me and I would have to listen to dad or relatives saying, “Look at so and so…why can’t you do better like them?” I wasn’t made like them, how could I perform like them? It’s later, during college, that I realised this fact, and worked hard in the stream I chose and excelled. it felt great! But, of course, no one said, “WHy can’t you be like Shilpa!?” 😀 It’s been since then, that I dislike comparing. Each individual is unique, so it helps to work on oneself, compete with oneself, than others. I just wish from the bottom of my heart that parents realise this sooner and save their kids from suffering.
Thank you for this post, dear!

Vidya Sury April 2, 2018 at 6:02 pm

I absolutely understand what you are saying, Shilpa. Though I did not have academic pressure, I always had pressure about sports. It bugged me that my eyesight didn’t allow me to focus properly and so, could not participate in most sports. However, I did take part in relays and some non-compeititive stuff. I also enjoyed music class and dance class. Sketched well. But still, that “Vidya doesn’t play sport” rankled. Funny how things balance out as we grow older. And no matter what times we live in, pressure from parents and peer pressure is something everyone has to live with, deal with.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Be Better Than Yourself #BeBetterThanYourself

Shalzmojo April 2, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Wow I could relate to this Vidya and wish my parents had encouraged me to be better than myself. I spent a very miserable school time where my self esteem suffered the most; I am one of those who dont get nostalgic at all while remembering school days 😉 I would never want to be back in school for anything in the world.

Jemima Pett April 2, 2018 at 9:52 pm

Wise words as always, Vidya. When I look back on my childhood I realise that nobody was pushing me to be better than myself but me. This of course hid my deep inferiority complex. I have no idea why I had one, except I felt I had to be as good as my (older) brothers – each of whom had very different talents. So I was trying to be as good as them, all three at once! No wonder I ended up in a world of my own!

Mayuri Nidigallu April 2, 2018 at 10:25 pm

We can change the world, but we can better it by bettering ourselves. Another inspiring post, Vidya!:)

Shantala April 2, 2018 at 10:26 pm

Truer words have never been spoken, Vidya. One should only compete with oneself to be the best possible version of themselves. Anything else is a futile exercise. Because there is only one you, so for it to be a fair apples to apples comparison, you are your only benchmark and your lone competition.

Shalini April 3, 2018 at 12:01 am

Ah, comparison! My parents used to do that and I used to feel really bad. Wie words, Mam. I could totally relate to it.

anupriya April 3, 2018 at 1:02 pm

As a mother of a five year old who just started school, I often check myself for not being overly ambitious with regards to how much he has achieved. Your post makes me reflect more on what kind of achievements I should focus on.

Vidya Sury April 3, 2018 at 1:10 pm

It is wonderful that you are thinking about it. It is certainly not easy in today’s world when the pressure of competition is so high. Hugs. I am pretty sure your child will receive the best nurturing from you! Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Be Better Than Yourself #BeBetterThanYourself

Soumya April 3, 2018 at 3:01 pm

I needed to read this today, Vidya. I’m so overwhelmed with work, reading, household chores, A to Z now that I feel like I’m losing grip over things.

This post motivates me in so many ways. Thank you!

Vidya Sury April 3, 2018 at 3:04 pm

Then you will like my C post. Hugs. Everything is temporary! And you’ll be fine.
Vidya Sury recently posted…Be Better Than Yourself #BeBetterThanYourself

Debbie L Hampton April 3, 2018 at 6:48 pm

I like this so much. I spent four decades trying to be “the best.” It’s exhausting and impossible, and was never good enough for my ex-husband. Now, I just try to be the best version of me that I can. I’m so much happier and it’s so much more healthy for me. I’m trying to teach this to my young adult son now! 🙂

Birgit April 3, 2018 at 7:01 pm

This is an excellent post and I wish more kids felt this way as well as the parents not pushing the8r kids. My friend works at a prestigious college and, just before Christmas, a young boy hung himself in the bathroom and another kid found him. It was shocking as so very, very sad and now other kids must go get help after hearing this or, like the boy who saw him, find a way to deal with what he saw. The boy who died felt he couldn’t maintain his marks…how sad is that? What pressures was he dealing with? Right now, for myself, I am just taking it day by day because I find I just have to…be right now.

JazzFeathers April 4, 2018 at 2:27 am

GReat post! I think the idea of competing with ourseves is great. But on the other hand, I don’t necessarily think to competing with others as bad. I think other people’s achievement may help us discover what we want, where we want to go. When I read a author that I truly like, I dont’ think, why am I not like him/her? I think, I love this, what can I do to become as good?

But maybe we are saying the same thing in two different ways 😉

Suzie Cheel April 4, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Yes our greatness is with, when we go within we find it. When we teach this from a young age we can create huge change xxoo

Elle Sommer April 5, 2018 at 4:38 pm

So true Vidya….everyone is a masterpiece in their own right. And being the greatest expression of that masterpiece as we journey through life is surely the greatest gift we give to ourselves, those around us and our world.

Love this post. 🙂

Sandra Pawula April 7, 2018 at 1:03 am

These are such great questions! I’m glad you’re asking them and that some companies are trying to turn the tide.


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