Do you need an enemy?

This afternoon, I was watching a young boy play basketball. At first, he played alone. Then a second boy joined him. Then a third boy joined in. The boys kept playing an amiable but slightly competitive game. Suddenly, there were lots of boys on the court playing basketball.  Teams were chosen. In a flash, the amiable game turned into a heated competition. The casual shots and comical antics turned into determined shots and fierce ball handling.

It was a quick and complete transformation for the boys on the court. The bar was raised; the skill level and sheer determination were evident. It became a serious game of basketball with a clear message: You play hard or you leave the court.

What had changed? What had transformed the boys into confident, competitive and highly skilled players?

The presence of an enemy.

The opposing team.

It made me ask the question: do we all need an enemy to bring out our best?

I was recently watching a movie trailer. (Movie name is not important.)  But it pointed out that the world does not need another hero. It prophetically said that the world needs an enemy. Why? Because the presence of an enemy can bring out the hero in us.

Honestly, I don’t think that we need an archenemy who truly intends to harm to us or who can seriously hurt our confidence or pride.  But I do think that a person (or group of people) who presents a challenge can bring out the hidden best in everyone. An enemy can make us fight for our beliefs, struggle for our position, and stand up for ourselves.

An enemy can be a compelling source of inspiration. A person who competes against us or who challenges us can be a great motivator to work harder and longer.  An enemy can bring out the best of our best.

An enemy can make a hero. An enemy can inspire us to act, move, change, and grow. An enemy can inspire us to greater heights rather than settle for the status quo.

Who or what is our enemy?

An enemy is not just a person who stands in our way or challenges our position.  An enemy can be a person who makes a better product, who is a better writer or speaker, or who is further ahead in his or her career.

But the real enemies lie within. An enemy can be procrastination, laziness, fear, low self-esteem, self-criticism, or self-doubt. An enemy can be the inner voice that tells you that you are just not good enough. An enemy can also be racism, intolerance, ignorance, and bigotry. These enemies can kill inspiration. All these must be defeated. And the “fight” against these enemies places people on the front lines towards growth, achievement, and fulfillment.

I am reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill who said,

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.

He wisely notes that inner enemies can take away your motivation and drain your inspiration.  When they are controlled, the outer enemies lose their power to hurt you. Moreover, the outer enemies can provide you with healthy competition and a measure to help you aim higher.  But those inner enemies must be faced before one can move forward.

Today, I vow to face my enemies wherever I discover them–from the work of excellent writers to my fear and doubt that I will ever reach their level of excellence. I bow with respect then take a bold step towards facing them.

My enemies have inspired me to unleash my inner hero.

Who is your enemy?

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