Win or lose?
At one time or another, we compare or rank ourselves against others. We tend to focus on points of comparison that interest us. We want to know how we measure up: "Hey, I'm not so bad," or "you sure don't measure up to their talent, smarts or looks," or "you better get your ass in gear."
Competitive thoughts can also make us victims of envy, jealousy and inadequacy. Not so good.
Healthy competition or playful rivalry seem to be good things when they motivate us to do better. We can all respect competitive people. They work hard and want to be good at something.
On the competitiveness spectrum there are all kinds of people, who:
I entered my first ballroom dance competition a few weeks ago, after three years of lessons and lots of practice. This came after a lifetime of believing that the competitive mindset was not part of my hard-wiring. I finally admitted that I wanted to know if I was any good, and the only way to do that was to be judged against other dancers.
I had to reassure myself over and over, that "there is no sin in wanting to win a competition." I had to train very hard, both technically and psychologically. First, I had to embrace the not-so-comfortable desire to compete and win. And then I had to develop work-around strategies to address the more likely reality that I would not win.
I told myself things like: "It's not about winning... You can't control the outcome, what matters is to do your best... If you don't do well, you will do better next time."
I placed first in all of the 40 dances I entered. The thrill and sense of accomplishment was mind-bending. I was flying.
Then I discovered there were no other dancers in my category. Forty empty first place medals. The sense of disappointment was mind-bending, too. I crashed.
So in my first-ever competition, I experienced the thrill of victory followed by the agony of discovering that my victory was empty.
All I can say is that, while competing against myself, I did quite well for a newbie.
To compete or not to compete, that is the question.
26/2/2017 07:53:04 am
What an experience! All that effort and the result includes a win which is not a win. On the other hand, it's definitely a win because the desire to do well stimulated you to work hard. But also a non-win because, in the end there was no way to measure your performance in comparison to others. It's the most ironic outcome, the most ambiguous result. But, this cosmic joke also asks the question ---- given that human beings and their circumstances are all so unique, can we ever really compare one thing to another?
26/2/2017 09:15:11 am
Well you seem to have a good understanding of the irony and the cosmic joke being played. You ask a very good question about whether we can really compare one thing to another or one person to another. In simple terms, yes, I think we can. We regularly choose a certain hairdresser, massage therapist, house painter, lawyer or doctor because we think he/she is better than the others. Is one person better because they have more experience, more talent and more training? Chances are you would like this person. People shop to buy the "best" car or warmest jacket. I think when you are ranking pro's in any sport or discipline versus newbies, novices or amateurs, a trained eye can recognize that one person may be better than another.
26/2/2017 09:23:17 am
It is worthwhile to discuss the relative worth or value of comparing. For example, let's say you win a competition against competitors who have half your experience? Or twice as much experience? Or who are much older or much younger? If you won against someone who had twice as much experience, you might feel better than if you won against someone who had a fraction of your experience. Or, if you win a competition against someone who has had to work much harder than you, or who has had more obstacles and barriers to overcome? How do we factor this in? So, there is much flawed thinking in comparisons and ranking and worthy of discussion and perhaps other blogs.
First of all congrats Minda. You worked hard and gave it your all..so that deserves a shout-out no matter the result. I too have had my share of this kind of result (being the only one in my age group often) I call those my gold participation medals. However, I love having a competition on my calendar. It motivates me to train harder and really focus. It makes me set goals beyond my current abilities.On the day of the competition, I have to work really hard on focusing and not letting my nerves get the best of me. I also get to see how others handle the pressure.This in itself is excellent mental training.I learn a lot through this process and if I can compete against people who are better, it inspires me and feeds the fire for next time. Whatever , I learn through sport and competition , I can use in life..perseverance, setting goals,failure and success.
4/3/2017 09:26:50 am
Thanks Catherine for your post. The pre-comp training was my favorite part.
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