Anyone who has ever competed in a sport knows the value of having actual competition. Runners, for instance, are much more likely to improve their personal best time if they are running against someone that is as good as or slightly better than they are.
Even in the world of business, competitive pressures provide the incentive needed to do your best work. (I think we all know how much competing against a deadline ‘encourages’ us to get things done faster, if not better.)
I’ve written before about my son Ian’s trampoline and tumbling. Competition season has begun again, and with it comes the inevitable preparation, travel, and actual performance. One of the hardest things about the early part of the local competition environment is the lack of competition in all age groups and difficulty levels, especially among boys.
In the absence of this competition – especially this early in the season when the goal is simply to participate so you can attend the State Championships – it would be all too easy for Ian and other athletes to not give their best. When you are the only one in your competitive group, you will get the gold even if you give your worst performance ever. For the ultra-competitive athlete, this is even worse because they don’t really consider it competition if they’re not actually beating someone.
During Ian’s first competitive season, we worked around this by turning it into a competition with himself – the goal was to improve the score of his routines from meet to meet so that by the time he got to the State Championships he was ready for any competition that may come his way.
This obviously sank in. Here’s what Ian had to say about not having any direct competition at the first event of this competition season:
I’m not going to win gold because I’m the only one. I’m going to win gold because I did my best.
A winning attitude we would all do well to remember.
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