Several years ago, I got the opportunity to have an interesting chat with a gavel club member’s parent after our regular gavel club meeting.
What was unique about our conversation was the persistent concern the parent had regarding his child’s eligibility to win the “Best Speaker” trophy after his speech performance. The discussion than lasted for about twenty minutes did not touch upon how the child was adjusting to the program or whether the Club mentors needed to give additional support to the child.
It was sadly all about the elusive trophy and the child’s “lost” victory.
The fierce desire to see children excel sometimes can make parents unable to see the stress inflicted on their child in the name of competition.
This excess expectation from the child may not only create an aversion to improve in the child but take away their confidence and interest in an activity. In worse situations, this stress can affect their interest to face life as well.
In the case of this child, the parent had no cause of concern. His child was a shy yet promising speaker who was certainly on his way to slowly, but steadily grow into one of our club’s articulate and confident speakers. It was encouragement, patience and guidance that the child needed from the parent and not a reminder about the trophy he did not win.
In the course of life, like that parent, many mistakenly believe that competition is a phenomenon that involves others in our personal race to excel.
“The only person you need to be better than, is the person you were yesterday”
We immensely add to our knowledge from observing others, their skills and wisdom. Learning from others is a fantastic tool for our development and growth. When learning is utilized purely as a weapon to defeat someone else and not for the purpose of improvement and growth, it’s positive impact is lost. Competition needs to reflect the ability to excel in one’s capacity and reap the positive consequences of the action.
Imagine if you believe in your uniqueness, you are willing to learn from everyone, take caution to retain your identity and best of all you strive to do your best, no matter what you do? Would it not enhance your belief in your individuality? Each of us are unique and have an identity of our own.
Being original has its challenges, of course. One of them is of course, refusing to be a part of the rat race and trying to be better than another. The benefits we gain, however far exceed the obvious challenges. When we possess the determination to be genuine, be accountable for the actions taken and intend to take, enjoy the lucid tranquility from a transparent harmony in our thoughts and actions, the joy we can experience in our individuality and achieving our goals are immense.
It is a common misconception that, our journey of competing with others arises from the dependency on the economic and financial stability we all enjoy or would like to enjoy. Indeed it is not so. If that was reality then many who make progress for only material acquisitions would be brimming with happiness and contentment. Sadly, this is not the case many a time.
As a member of society, educational institution, workplace or a contestant in a competition, our competition is with ourselves and ourselves alone.
The more we think of the performance and background of our competitors, the more we engage in toxic thoughts and negativity before a contest. Instead, if we are to ask ourselves how we can perform better than we did the last time, we are likely to experience a better a sense of satisfaction after our performance. A satisfaction that will be there immaterial of our “victory” in the contest.
As a member of the organization that we work for, when we are aware of the next possible promotion looming ahead, let’s not focus our attention on the obvious competition ahead. Let us enhance our existing skills, observe and learn from the strengths of our fellow candidates for this promotion. Seeking mentoring from the well wishers and veterans in the organization is also a positive step that could take us closer to success.
Before any action we make, it is crucial to give a thought about the purpose of the particular action that we take. Will the action give us the result we seek? The answer to this question, will also enable us to be more aware of our pursuit for excellence. Our understanding of the goal or the end result that we wish to achieve, will also effectively negate the thoughts of competing with others and focus only on the quality of our performance.
As Scott Stratten once said,
“If you are your authentic self, you have no competition”