Tyler Cowen on invisible competition and how it differs from competing with those around you.
Let’s look at individuals. Human beings evolved in small groups and hunter-gatherer societies, in which virtually all competition was face to face. That is the environment most of us are biologically and emotionally geared to succeed in, and it explains why our adrenalin surges when a rival wins the boss’s favor or flirts with our special someone. But in the new arena, with its faceless and anonymous competitors, those who are driven to action mostly by adrenalin will not fare well. If that’s what they need to get things done, they will become too passive and others will overtake them.
To me, the most interesting challenge is maintaining motivation in the absence of visible competition. How do you win a race you might not even know you’re running?