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Do you guys think your competition motivates you?

  • Thread starter flyingpig
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Coming back home from college made me realize I got motivated because I had competitors when I come home I still want to do Math, but when I lift a pencil I suddenly lost the will to complete the problem and almost lost interest.

Anyone got a good remedy for that? I tried leeching off another college's lecture, but the people there couldn't motivate me.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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Coming back home from college made me realize I got motivated because I had competitors when I come home I still want to do Math, but when I lift a pencil I suddenly lost the will to complete the problem and almost lost interest.

Anyone got a good remedy for that? I tried leeching off another college's lecture, but the people there couldn't motivate me.
You could start a reading group, but it will be difficult finding people if you're not near a decent university.
 
  • #3
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Truthfully, I hate competition. It's annoying and distracting. I don't do physics, write programs, and work on math problems because I want to impress people with my genius abilities, I just find it crazy interesting and I love to do it. I really, really hate thinking about how smart others are or how smart the graduate committees will think they are in comparison to me, and all the other related stuff. I find it just takes away from the pleasure of learning and doing just for the sake of learning and doing.
 
  • #4
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I found competition to be motivating for course work. I didn't want to be the one in my study group to get the low grade! As long as competition does get to the point of being cuttthroat where folks would try to sabotage, I think it is healthy.
 
  • #5
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I don't think I have ever studied for a test because I wanted to do better on the test than my peers. I studied because I wanted to do good for myself.
 
  • #6
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I really want to get in to a good grad school, that is my primary motivation. I suppose you could look at that as "competition towards other applicants, or my class". I'm not the type to worry about doing better than a particular person though.
 
  • #7
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Sometimes I feel motivated to put in more effort, so I don't get wiped out by the Chinese and Indian students....yeah....
 
  • #8
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Truthfully, I hate competition. It's annoying and distracting. I don't do physics, write programs, and work on math problems because I want to impress people with my genius abilities, I just find it crazy interesting and I love to do it. I really, really hate thinking about how smart others are or how smart the graduate committees will think they are in comparison to me, and all the other related stuff. I find it just takes away from the pleasure of learning and doing just for the sake of learning and doing.
I don't think that's the kind of competition the OP is talking about.

That's the 'wrong' kind of competition.


I have a couple friends/classmates that I am in constant 'competition' with.

We're not trying to outdo each other or show off, but we are all kind of... co-operatively competing? I don't really know how else to describe it.

We aren't out to put each other down, but we're out to push each other forward. To be the first one to get a concept when we're all struggling with it and to help the others understand it. It's not because we want to rub it in the others' faces, but because we're all so passionate about it that we're excited to help the others understand it.


To the OP:

Yes I would miss it. Luckily I attend a relatively small Canadian university and my friends/competitors all live geographically close to each other and hang out/get drunk/talk physics fairly regularly.
 
  • #9
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Before college, I was ranked in the 60% percentile with average marks on achievement tests. I did (and do) well in college to prove my ability to myself. I'd be lying if I said interest in the subject motivated me toward perfection, because I scored As in many classes I found boring or uninteresting.
 
  • #10
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I feel that competition makes me perform a little bit better. It's more of a way for me to measure how good I am in relation to everyone else in my field.
I agree with zif. I don't think we should be pushing others down but using the competition to help each other out.
 
  • #11
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well you can't say competition isn't unhealthly, I think it's heathly, it moves us forward.
 
  • #12
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Absolutely. Not necessarily in the sense I think you mean. I'm competing more in general accomplishments, than corresponding grades. I started taking dual enrollment classes because I had a friend that was taking them. He started 4 classes ahead of me (in ODE), but I think I'll catch up next year. It was more of an expository thing; I didn't even know one could take dual enrollment classes until I met him. I've always been one to believe I'm at least as smart as everyone in the room, but not as academically gifted. He inspired me to be as academically gifted as intellectually. So... I guess it's more me trying to reach the level, or above, of my inspiration and friend.

EDIT: For the record, if we were competing on a corresponding grades level, I would get totally dominated. I don't believe he's ever made below a 98 in any class. I, on the other hand, am happy with an A without the "+." Just saying...
 
  • #13
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I only use competition when studying for tests. I'm competing with myself and my class mates.

Usually, I'm not really motivated to study for tests and constantly get hung up on studying something we did many weeks before the test because I thought it was interesting. So when the test comes around I've done the homework for the most recent sections but haven't dug deep and need to find something motivating for me to break the cycle of an interesting topic. But after the test is over, I don't care about the actual results even if I get the top score. I just go back to studying whatever it was I was working on before.

What works for me is to browse through books with challenge problems or thought provoking problems. Once I grab one that is interesting, which is many, I read it on my white board and let it simmer for sometimes weeks. That keeps me motivated even if I don't crack it.
 
  • #14
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I really, really hate thinking about how smart others are or how smart the graduate committees will think they are in comparison to me, and all the other related stuff.
this
 
  • #15
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I do have to admit that competition is a powerful motivator. There is a teacher at my school, a notorious one who gives about 1 to 3 As (grading on a real bell curve. My bro got a b with a 94 in that class bc 2 others had 98s.) per semester and also teaches a traditionally difficult subject (signals & systems I and II).

Anyway, I told a friend of mine I planned on getting double As in that sequence to which he confidently said I wouldn't.

A verbal challenge, the component of competition it brings, is an unbeatable motivator. I mean, I planned to do it anyway, but that added fuel really does come through when studying. If I ever felt worn out or felt like playing video games, I could just think of his words and begin studying longer and better.

http://web.eecs.utk.edu/~roberts/ECE316/

A histogram of the latest bell-curve grade distribution can be found at that link. My brother was unlucky enough to go through that course when the - and + grades did not exist. At least people have the mercy of being given an a- for their 94 now! Haha!
 
  • #16
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Yes, very much so. I like being better than everyone else so I try to beat everyone else. I had one semester where a friend and I made a small wager on who'd get the higher GPA and currently one of my goals is to surpass another friend's GPA (temporarily that guy needs to get into med school, I don't).


I think competition between people raises the grades of everyone involved.


Of course I mean a friendly competition, I don't try and sabotage my friends.
 
  • #17
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Truthfully, I hate competition. It's annoying and distracting. I don't do physics, write programs, and work on math problems because I want to impress people with my genius abilities, I just find it crazy interesting and I love to do it. I really, really hate thinking about how smart others are or how smart the graduate committees will think they are in comparison to me, and all the other related stuff. I find it just takes away from the pleasure of learning and doing just for the sake of learning and doing.
Might well said! :approve:
 
  • #18
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Yes, it can. It's not a question of who's smarter or who's getting it done first. It's as others have said, something more friendly, if you will.

I tend to work better if I have this big-*** bomb planted on a wall of my room and I absolutely cannot get away from the room until I've finished my work or done a satisfactory amount of it. (figuratively of course, I'm not that gaga) It's a very-me thing, in that I have to get it done to feel satisfied and I have to do it right. Being in a environment with people who are better than me (they don't necessarily have to be my friends) encourages me to do better.
 
  • #19
Competition brings out the best in people.
 
  • #20
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i hate competition too. i dont like the idea of comparing two people , when they think totally different and why you are comparing how they think just based on few variables. what good it does ? i dont understand this oversimplification of such a complex event.
competition means less imaginativeness.
 
  • #21
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Competition means zero for me. I only care about my grades in the end. There are enough positions for PhD students that if you meet the demands you will get one you want. When it's not for grades I will not lift my pencil for any math problems. I will do physics for fun though.

A problem is more challenging than competition. In sports that is completely different for me.
 
  • #22
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I think in the illusion of competition we have sidelined the actual characters: love for the subject, interest and the urge to make your little contribution to it.
We've seen in all of history that the greatest advances very rarely had any hints of competition.
 
  • #23
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I'd like to add on to what I said before. I also think competition requires people to take the easiest route to learning or discovering or doing. The high amount of competition in academia for physics requires that people sort of try and milk as much as they can (published papers that is) from their research. Innovative and different ideas is seen as taking a risk, and if your competitor isn't taking a risk, is it worth losing your credibility/respect/prestige/job? Or when studying for a test... do you study only what you've done in class or do you attempt to learn it all and really REALLY understand it? It's much easier to memorize how to do the problems than to grind through and get it on a deeper level. Competition (and grades, to an extent) sometimes push people to do these things. It's crazy, and we all love physics, but we do it and I think this is why.

Competition may breed 'success' and 'progress', but we ought to ask, what kind? It does okay, but that's because most people are just trying to do something interesting without actually taking too many risks. Only the people at the top can do this (if you're talking about something ridiculous like quantum consciousness and the universe being a giant computer, having the MIT name backing you up makes you rather immune to embarrassment (or at least, it's consequences)), the rest just can't.
 

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