The Upside of Competition

I grew up hating competition, probably because I was taught that if you aren’t the winner, the best you can be is the first loser.  According to my impossible family guidelines, it was as impolite to win, as it was shameful to lose.  One of my parent’s favorite sayings, “You just can’t win,” clearly and ironically sums up a key message of my youth.

Good news.  I’ve come to understand that “healthy competition” is possible, something many other people have understood for a long time.  I believe that healthy competition means that you grow and challenge yourself to be better than you were before.  It’s also an opportunity to learn from others. A competitor’s accomplishments can provide a benchmark for performance and sometimes inspiration to take action.

I re-experienced this recently when my blog was entered into a Best Coaching Blog competition.  Competing with other terrific blogging coaches, I ask myself, what if I don’t win?  The answer is no big deal.    At the same time, in the name of “competition,” I’m increasing readership and learning how to improve the blog.  So just engaging in the process is valuable for me.  In fact, I’ve noticed that my “competitors” are cool people who I want to know.  After all, we share a common vision.  We all value helping others to lead happier, healthier lives.

On the other hand, I’ve witnessed what a bummer it can be when competition is an end in itself.  A “winning is all that matters” perspective is often a shackle instead of a magic carpet ride.  Basing our self-worth solely on winning, or constantly comparing ourselves to others can be hazardous to the soul.  Competing with myself (like what did I learn? or, how can I get better at this thing I love doing?) has been way more productive for me and has resulted in happier outcomes. Check out the movie “Bridesmaids” for a funny but sad look at the way we humans can contort situations when we measure our self-worth by constantly comparing ourselves to others.

I guess competition is like most things in life. In and of itself, it isn’t good or bad, but rather its meaning takes shape by how you play the game.

Love to know how you handle competition.  Is it working for you?

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Date: Saturday, 9. July 2011 13:05
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity & Fun Stuff, Self Actualization

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4 comments

  1. 1

    I think this is a lovely and accurate conclusion: "I guess competition is like most things in life. In and of itself, it isn’t good or bad, but rather its meaning takes shape by how you play the game." Competition isn't bad in and of itself – it's how we approach it and feel about it that makes the difference.

    Lovely post! :)

  2. 2

    Thanks Jeanette!

  3. 3

    First. Loved Bridesmaids. Second. Love your writing style, which probably should be first. I will be going to the blog competition and commenting more there.
    Good luck!
    Teresa http://theartofpurposefulliving.blogspot.com/

  4. 4

    Glad you enjoyed the movie and thanks for the feedback Teresa!

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