America is a nation built on the idea of being number one.
It is not enough for Americans to win; our win must be so one-sided, so complete and devastating to the opposition that there can be no question as to our superiority. The revile the notion of ties or participation trophies. The believe in being good sports, but only in so far as comforting their defeated opponents in an effort to further prove their dominance through gestures of grace and magnanimous generosity.
During the peak of the cold war, the United States became an absolute machine of innovation, exploration and industry. Why? What drove them to push the limit? An enemy.
The Soviet Union provided a clear and unambiguous rivalry to everything the United States stood for. The were at odds on ideology, but more important, the Soviet Union provided another nation so driven by the need to prove their dominance that they would spend millions upon millions of dollars and man hours to defeat us in everything from space exploration, to chess, to Olympic sports.
This rivalry, this constant threat of being overtaken by an opposing force pushed USA to be greater than we ever could have hoped. Ask any Olympic athlete what drives them to be great. They’ll certainly give answers like; “I want to make my country proud” or “I love the sport” but if you dig deeper you’ll learn the top performers have a rival. They may not be enemies but they have someone, somewhere who they know is training just as hard in an attempt to take away the medal they know rightly belongs to them. South African Olympic swimmer Chadle Clos’ was a rival to Michael Phelps, going so far as to call out the American in the press and reported keeping pictures of Phelps in his house and locker room so he was constantly reminded “What is Phelps doing while I’m resting or watching TV?”
Enemies and rivals force us to push ourselves beyond being good to being great. If you don’t have at least one enemy it means you’re not doing anything worth noting. Want everyone to like you? Keep your head down, don’t make waves, don’t be a threat to anyone’s greatness.
Want to change the world? Start working to become the new BEST IN THE WORLD. Start working to make a rival out of the current #1. Start making enemies.
By Anyaele Samuel
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