Thought for My Day: Learning is about Competing with Yourself


One of the more complex challenges when learning, researching or studying is that there is no “race to run”. You can’t “beat someone else”, or make it to finish. For vendors and industry certifications, the exam is a challenge that comes at the end of the ‘race’ but who are you competing with ?

Learning is about competing with yourself. Only you can run the race against distraction, easy choices, or just being lazy.

Many people ask me why I’m opposed to sporting competitions. And it struck that  my life doesn’t involved competing with other people. Sporting competitions are  life events where you prepare endlessly to finally compete against others players. It’s relatively easy to visualise your competition and get motivated – run a bit harder, train a bit longer, lift a bit more weight.

Competing with yourself, though. That’s really hard.

About Greg Ferro

Greg Ferro is a Network Engineer/Architect, mostly focussed on Data Centre, Security Infrastructure, and recently Virtualization. He has over 20 years in IT, in wide range of employers working as a freelance consultant including Finance, Service Providers and Online Companies. He is CCIE#6920 and has a few ideas about the world, but not enough to really count.

He is a host on the Packet Pushers Podcast, blogger at and on Twitter @etherealmind and Google Plus

You can contact Greg via the site contact page.

  • cjinfantino

    I would argue that it is equally as challenging training to compete against someone else as it is competing against yourself.

    In the end, you still have to push yourself, not be lazy and find the strength to move past all the obstacles that get in your way. This applies not matter who you are competing against.

    I have the same difficulty pushing myself whether it is studying/learning or training to compete in TKD.

  • AlanJCarden

    Running with someone else can help with motivation and be more enjoyable :) But it should never be a race.

  • Jeff Sicuranza

    Good post, I would somewhat disagree about “Sporting competitions are life events where you prepare endlessly to finally compete against others players.” As an amature triathlete I race to compete against myself. Sometimes we train to race or race to train. Without competition either with ourselves as you put well, or against others we lose a level of desire, ambition and goal achievement satisfaction.

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