The Oneness of Success
Have you ever watched a person or a team rejoice in victory and felt really good inside? Have you ever witnessed someone overcome great obstacles and become emotional and inspired? Have you ever felt sorry for another person’s loss? What you are experiencing is the “oneness of life.” But why do you suppose this experience occurs? And what can we learn from it?
The reason that you sometimes feel the experience of another is because, in truth, the other person and you are fragments of the same spiritual puzzle. I know that might sound farfetched, but, to me, our lives, performances, and the world would improve by leaps and bounds if people started stressing their similarities and stopped talking about their perceived differences.
Indeed, the oneness of life has been talked about forever. Insightful sages such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, and one of my mentors, Sydney Banks, did their best to point us in this freeing direction. Yet, since we each live in a separate reality governed by our own personal thoughts (and we mistakenly accept that reality as true), the big picture has become distorted and we—and the planet—have lost our sense of harmony.
Feel a common bond with your opponent and your performance will soar.
So, how can we reverse this imperceptive trend? We can start by recognizing that the oneness of life is essential in our quest for success—both on and off the playing field. Why? Because success thrives when you find clarity, take judgment off the table, and feel a connection with everything around you (including your opponent). Success withers in an environment of isolation, ego, and contempt.
The truth is that every time you set out to win, you are actually competing with and against yourself. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to finish first, in the end, the outcome is irrelevant. For example, Super Bowl winner Tyrone Keyes once told me that during the height of his football career he started to feel compassion for the other team’s players when his team won a game. Unlike the advice of many coaches and parents today, Tyrone is certain that this respect fueled his success as it heightened his level of consciousness and freed him to be his best. Likewise, on the PGA tour, the most accomplished players are often found sharing their thoughts about the golf swing or a strategy for a particular course with their opponents. Now why do you suppose that a golfer would help someone who he also trying to beat?
Competition is the ultimate form of cooperation—the oneness of life in action.
Yes, I am well aware that this perspective on achievement (and enlightenment) might be hard, at first, to grasp. But consider this: Through competition we grow: I push you to get better; you push me. We are cooperating with each other in a quest to expand our capabilities and knowledge. In fact, the next time you compete, look closely at your opponent. I am sure you will feel a common bond with the player on the other side of the court as the perceptual field—your awareness—expands.
As the above wise men often said, appreciating the oneness of life can absolutely change the world. It can end prejudice, stop wars, and wipe out famine. My simple hope is for the sports world to set an empowering example of this principle. Let’s start by recognizing ourselves in our opponents and, thus, alter the way we look at competition. The last line in my book, Stillpower, reads: “Success is so much closer than you think.” The reason: The best competitors care about winning and don’t care about winning, simultaneously. They realize that unbounded effort comes from knowing that win, lose, or draw—our lives remain the same.