Negative vampires will always exist in some capacity as long as everyone wants to create some drama. Monday morning quarterbacks will always tell you that you can't do it. We react to this by asking "what have you done with your life?" and we find that when we stack their accomplishments against ours, we win.
Goals take up a lot of time. We determine who we are by defining our dreams and what we reach for. In effect, we want our lives to reflect on the effort we put into what we believe in. The dreamer wants to be given credit for what he remembers seeing after he wakes up.
"Ignore the haters". It's basically doctrine at this point.
But sometimes, we come across someone that's indifferent to your goals, but for different reasons.
It might not be a hater. Rather, this person we come across might be very supportive of our goals. They may have done nothing wrong.
This is the one-upper. This is the guy at the gym who is currently on vacation from his Ivy League school who is also good friends with your girlfriend. This is the guy who knows more about movie trivia than you do, and he's friends with someone who has a direct line to JK Rowling/Michael Jordan/whoever your childhood hero is.
A lot of fear can come from the one-upper in that we find that whatever little amazing tidbit we have about life has already been discovered by this individual. This fear means that our identity and the goals of our life mean nothing because someone can do it so much better.
But, here are some things to consider:
You all have different starting points:
Some of us are born rich. Some of us are born poor. Some of us are born middle class and cannot get government benefits. Whatever the starting point is, life is not about where you were, but about where you are going.
Don't fold your hand before the game's over. The one-upper might get hit by a truck for all we know, and a vacuum might open up. Don't stop because someone else is leading you in the score. You're still in the first quarter. Don't give in.
No one brings baggage to the table:
Unless you're promoting a book exploring your battle with heroin addiction, you don't greet people talking about all your shortcomings and weaknesses. We try to impress people when we first see them. It's highly likely that one-upper's have an inferiority complex.
They could be hiding something. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but at the end of the day, we are all human. Batman gets scared until someone brings out the Kryptonite.
Set yourself against your goals, not anyone else's:
If you want to get better at math, you will always lose if you compare yourself to Stephen Hawking. If you want to get a better jump-shot, you'll never start if you compare yourself to Michael Jordan.
Goals are about growth. It's about getting better. If you're a competition junkie, knock yourself out, but if you cannot win against yourself, you won't win against others.
Step up to the challenge:
Sometimes we lack direction in life. Success can make us feel guilty. Adversity quickly changes that. Commitment to stopping the competition is a great reason to get up in the morning.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. It's easy to see people as a threat, but if someone has the same tastes that you have and they want to make the same changes to the world that you do, what's not to love? See if you can contribute something to what they're working on. There could be an awesome chapter about you in the book of this guy's life.
Challenges stop us from being cocky. In any form of greatness, rivalries happen. Welcome it.