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Brown Uzuokwu: Competing at the Highest Level



Picture1Life is all about competition. All living creatures compete for survival. Whether you like it or not, you are in a competition. Your business is in a competition. Your art is in a competition.

The labour market is a competing ground for job seekers. There is a competition in your workplace. The entertainment industry is full of competition. So many blogs and sites are competing for attention on the social media. Every day you wake up, you have to embrace your competition because truth be told, you are actively in a competition, consciously or sub-consciously. The question should be: are you competing at the highest level?

Since it has been established that every one of us is competing seriously, that brings us to the issue of discourse today. At what level are you competing? Are you competing at the highest level? Or are you already feeling at home with mediocrity?

What does it mean to compete at the lowest level? You know you are competing at the lowest level if all your care about is not failing. For most people failure is not acceptable, but pushing for excellence is not an option either.

Dear job seeker, all you strive for is just survival. You apply for any kind of job just to keep body and soul together. You walk in to an interview panel sanctimoniously with your shoulders low, wearing that, ‘pity me’ look on your face like they are about doing you a favour. You are competing at the lowest level.

I don’t know what you do. But the truth is that, if you find yourself in an environment where you are been celebrated by everyone and people are challenged by your output but nothing is challenging you, nothing is putting you on your toes, there is nothing to look up to, then it’s time you leave that environment. If you feel at home in such an environment, then you are already a bed mate with mediocrity. You are obviously competing at the lowest level.

The major reason I relocated to Lagos is my desire to compete at the highest level. It is not for greener pasture. Lagos state is very competitive, which mean opportunities abound in Lagos. Where there is competition, opportunities abound. Opportunities for growth. Opportunities for diversification. Opportunities to learn. Opportunities to dream big. Opportunities to build healthy and productive synergies and an opportunity to think beyond borders. I am enjoying the competition.

Competition is very healthy. It does not kill. There is no such thing as shying away from competition. The moment you think you are shying away from a competition, what you don’t know is that you just signed up to compete actively on a different platform. You just started competing at the lowest level. So, if you must compete, why don’t you compete at the highest level?

You can make up your mind to compete at the highest level as a Film maker, an Actor, a Music Artiste, a Photographer, a Fashion Designer, an IT Expert, Caterer, an Architect, a Lawyer, a Model, an Entrepreneur or what have you. I am not saying you have to relocate to Lagos state to compete at the highest level. No. conquer your environment. Your environment should not dictate the quality of your output and performance. No matter where you are operating from, if your product or performance is captured and shown on CNN, you should be confident about the quality and not ask for time to make changes to it.

You know you are competing at the lowest level, when what you call your best cannot match some people’s worst elsewhere.

I learnt this lesson quite early in life as a ‘supposedly’ bright student of my school then. I was basking on my laurels as the brightest student of that my school until I came across some average students from other schools that questioned my status. It was a defining moment for me. I stopped assessing my performance with the standard in my school. I had to benchmark my performance with the best you can find anywhere. That was how I was able to eventually come out top in a state competition without having to change my school to the amazement of all.

I don’t care to know where you operate from, but if you happen to be an instrumentalist in your community and per chance you happen to find yourself in a church like house on the rock, will you still be able to introduce yourself as an instrumentalist? As a fashion designer, can you confidently introduce yourself to tiffany Amber or Deola Sagoe as one? As a filmmaker, do you even think AMVCA or are you just after stomach infrastructure? If you are provided with the resources and platform to do what you do on a large and global scale, do you think it will meet best practices? As an employee, do you ever think of assuming responsibility, taking initiatives and delivering outstanding results? If you cannot confidently say yes to these questions, then you need to stop competing at the lowest level.

Come up higher. Pitch yourself against the very best in your industry or your workplace. Commit to self-improvement and research. Always break out from your comfort zone and you will find yourself competing at the highest level. You can decide today to stand up and be counted.

It’s a great day!

Brown Uzoukwu Educates and Inspires Young Professionals to Pursue their Dream Careers and Thrive in a Challenging and Positive Work Environment. He Provides Training and Coaching solutions for Schools, Small and Medium Organizations, Youth Forums and Individual Professionals. E-mail: [email protected] Phone: +234 (0)813 3514 781


  1. alwayshappy

    September 21, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    my people perish not for lack of knowledge rather lack of courage and gumption to go for it! Like it or not, you need #Godfirst to give you his vision instead of all this yeye ones you dey borrow from mere men, men like you! Are you a learner?

  2. Ardnas

    September 21, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    … You know you are competing at the lowest level if all your care about is not failing. For most people failure is not acceptable, but pushing for excellence is not an option either…thank you so much. Am glad I took out time to read this. Felt like you wrote this personally because of me. I will see to it that I make deliberate changes so as to compete at the highest level. Thanks once again sir.

  3. Tafia

    September 21, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    “I am only in a competition with the person I was yesterday”

    Self motivation is the most difficult thing hence easier to use others as a gauge to your performance but this is very dangerous!!! everybody is on their own journey through life, should we really adopt the competitive approach?
    Competition in itself is not a bad thing (in an ideal world) but who are you really competing with? are you going to peek into everybody’s situation to access if they are the right match to compete against? Its exhausting, the idea that we are in a constant competition is exhausting and its usually the birth of jealousy, envy, coveting, theft and such and such no matter if its the highest or lowest level of competition.
    My take is stay focused, stay positive, find people alike, do your best leave the rest

    well penned article from Brown!

  4. Tosin

    September 22, 2015 at 3:48 am

    the first paragraph, second paragraph, ehn, just add “TO YOU.” and i guess that belief system works a bit, until it doesn’t. not enough intellectual rigour there, e.g. who told you, how do you know, why do you assume, the things you state there?
    but hey, let me leave my comment and go on to read the rest – there may yet be something to learn.

  5. Akaahan Terungwa

    September 22, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Hi Brown,

    A seriously amazing article…the lessons are apt – so is the wisdom beneath the lines.

    However, I beg to differ slightly: while the whole world is obviously in competition, the greatest guys around in every industry DO NOT COMPETE!

    I repeat: THEY DO NOT COMPETE…

    Now, you may be wondering: is that even possible?

    Yes, it is. These folks set the standards by aiming at the highest perfection levels they can imagine (or dream). They also make certain that they work towards it. In no time, they become the benchmark of success and everyone in the industry looks up to them 🙂

    The above approach is better than the ‘compete against the best approach’ for the following reasons:

    1. When you have the competition mentality, you have already accepted that someone is either superior or a rival – an honest disservice to your genius.

    2. There are some industries that the best are obviously mediocre when pitched against ideal standards. In such a situation, competition against the ‘best’ is actually an exercise to rival with mediocrity!

    I wonder if you get my points…

    Do enjoy the day – and remember to set the pace instead of competing against the ‘best’.

    Akaahan Terungwa

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