"I have come to realize that running into people who are doing what I thought was my life's purpose better than me is a great blessing."
Working with your competitors is the best thing to do, as it not only brings the best in each one of us, it also makes each one of us much better than we can possibly dream of becoming alone.
I used to consistently top the results every year at both elementary school and high school at my school level. But at a state level, I was not anywhere in the top 10%. I thought I did not have the best of resources at my school. I was studying in a government high school in a small village with very limited resources. But other toppers in the list are studying in private schools and mostly from cities. Moreover, their parents are well educated. I thought these are the factors that give them success and lack of mine to be at the top at state level.
After I joined polytechnic college, I read a novel in Telugu (prominently spoken in southern states of India, in particular AndhraPradesh)"Trinethrudu" and realized that I was trying to compete with friends in my class and hence my results are at that level. I was very happy to be at the top in my school, but never looked beyond. To get statelevel results I need to compete at state level. So I removed all my classmates from my competitor's list and assumed an invisible and very smart competitor somewhere in the state. I even shared these thoughts with my so-far competitors in my class. Some thought so. Some did not. But We all used to work together, share and discuss freely. If one of us know any better about a concept or problem, by the end of the day we all know and understand the concept and solve the problem. Each one of us have less work to ourselves alone, as if I did not understand I have somebody to talk to and if I had already solved some thing I had some body to share my understanding and consolidate. Friends in other branches of engineering continued to do what they have been doing all along. Everything they knew was a secret. The books they read were a secret. If they solved a problem, they would immediately hide it and say it was so difficult to solve.
The results of what we did in my class were not so obvious. When the final results came in 1994 three of us stood at the top 3 at state level, myself being at the top with a 90.0%. And it did not stop there. In the statewide entrance examination conducted to enter into engineering course, 6 of us stood in the top 10. Again three of us at the top 3, I was at 3rd.
Lots of people including press attributed most of this achievement to the college staff. Many of our friends also said it was just a coincidence. But I knew what made us so proud. When we joined the college, each one of us are good at some thing. And that some thing alone. But when we left the college, we were good at so many things, that each one of us brought to the table. We are not only at our own best levels, we were much better than we could dream of getting alone.