Competing seems like a simple concept to me…that is until I actually think about it. You see, I feel as if I’ve been competing all my life. Most days, I don’t really think about it anymore because it has just become second nature. Last night, however, when my wife sent me this picture of our son, Jack, competing in his first chess tournament and then told me all about it when I got home, I started to actually THINK about competing.
This week has been an interesting week in regards to competition for me. As I took the time to review the past 7 days in light of competition, it struck me how truly connected it is to my life. I also learned that competing takes on different forms for different people. Here’s the timeline…
Last Thursday I found out that our firm DIDN’T WIN a big project that really meant a lot to me. It was hard on our team and disappointing to me. I tried not to second guess why we didn’t win and couldn’t get any answers from the decision makers, so I had to just push through and move on. Saturday, I coached Jack and his team in 8 year old basketball. We won, the kids had fun, and Jack was happy that he had been a part of it, but not thrilled by any means. Monday, I coached the same team in practice and Jack (who is not that good at basketball) did not compete at all in practice, didn’t even really try. It was frustrating and we had a talk about at least giving effort, even when you aren’t the best at something. He told me again that he just doesn’t really like basketball. That was hard for me to hear although I knew it was true. Tuesday, it was cold outside so instead of a run, I decided to try a couple of rounds of the 7 Minute Workout. Wow, that worked some muscles I haven’t worked in awhile and boy, was I competing with my mind to finish the second round! Thursday we pitched another new business opportunity to a professional sports team and after the presentation one of the key decision makers pulls me aside and says “you guys nailed it, you’ve got this.” That felt great and my colleagues and I were beaming and fist bumping all the way to the airport. And then last night I get home and hear about how Jack got 3rd place in his first chess tournament and really had fun. This morning, when he woke up and we talked about it, he said, “I wish I could have at least gotten 2nd.” There it is – competing.
Here’s the thing about competing; if you are by nature a competitor, you will find the thrill in competing in the things that you love. As a young man, and even a young adult, basketball was the thing I most enjoyed competing in and I loved the competition, even the hard losses. As I’ve grown older, I have realized that I get a very similar thrill in competing for sales, even when we are not chosen for a project. Earlier in the week, I was so frustrated that Jack didn’t get a competitive thrill from competing in basketball the way I did as a kid. Little did I know that it wasn’t because he wasn’t a competitor, it was because I was trying to force him to find that thrill in one of my passions, not his. His competitive thrill right now comes from competing at chess (and probably other thinking games), even when he loses. And if his body language in this picture is any indication, I’d say he has some of the same ‘swagger’ and ‘cockiness’ that I had as a young man when I knew I was the better player on the court. My job now as dad/coach is to encourage that competitive spirit to manifest itself the right way and support what he loves regardless of whether or not it is my passion.