Compete. Compete. Compete.

When was the last time you competed? When was the last time you put yourself in a situation where how you performed mattered? When was the last time you put your skills, talents, and abilities up against others to see where you stack up?

Competition can be such a divisive topic. Some people love the thrill and adrenaline of putting it on the line, while others prefer to avoid competing. Some people compete in everything, whether it is recreational softball, fantasy football, a training session in the gym, or a board game, while others never concern themselves with comparison to others.

So, what approach is best for those who want to excel and continue striving to be better?

If we simply look at the word "compete" and where it comes from, we can learn a lot. "Compete" comes from the Latin word "competere." Breaking down the word, we learn that there are two components: "com," to meet or come together, and "petere," to strive, seek, or rush at. When we combine those components, we understand it means to strive together or strive towards something we have in common.

This may sound different than what we see in today's modern world of competition being a way to establish dominance and superiority over others. How many times do we hear coaches yelling and screaming to beat the other team into the ground, take their will, prove who wants it more, or determine who is the better man/woman? While this may help some to rouse up emotions, energy, and excitement about performing, it doesn't quite fit with the origins of competition.

Competition requires engagement from another person, team, group, or organization. It's designed to bring out the best in people by striving towards a common goal. Whether that is to win a game, an event, a training session, or a contract, there is an end state that all the participants would love to achieve. If it weren't for the opposing person or team, there would not be a competition at all. Many times, we are looking for the result of a competition to define us or make us feel better than the opponent. If we find ourselves in the position of defining ourselves based on our results, it can be a dangerous game of relying on events that are outside of our control to dictate how we think of ourselves.

If we are looking for a different approach to competition, we can focus on these four areas the next time we compete:

1) Going into the moment with gratitude that there is an opportunity to express the skills, talents, and abilities that have been practiced and trained over time. We can be thankful there is another person, team, or group that will push us to see what we are capable of at that specific time. This moment is not a do or die situation but rather a moment that we can savor and appreciate on our journey.

2) Competition provides us with some of the most salient feedback for how to move forward based on how the competition unfolds. Sometimes, we will perform the way we want, and other times, we may not. Both are incredible learning opportunities. If we can walk away from the performance with a list of items that we can improve and continue to work on, then there is a great sense of hope for what we can accomplish.

3) We get the opportunity to experience the full range of emotions associated with competition, from the ecstasy of victory to the crushing weight of defeat. We learn more about who we are and who we are capable of being. If we want to live full lives, then we are bound to experience all types of emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. Some we may deem more pleasant than others, but they all help make us into the people we are today.

4) We can thank our opponents regardless of the outcome because we know that without each other, there would not be this incredible challenge of planning, strategy, training, execution, and testing ourselves. Even with emotions flaring in highly contested competitions, we can still know that we are striving together in that moment.

Our challenge for this week is to identify a time when we can compete. Maybe it's a local competition or a challenge at work that matters to us and we want to test our capacity to perform. Notice the preparation, the way our brains and bodies operate on competition day, and how we handle the physical and mental stress we experience.

Competition is one of the coolest moments we get to experience as humans where we can strive together to push the envelope of what is possible and learn about ourselves in a deeper way, so take advantage of it!

Team Why So Serious?

Local Competition 3rd Place

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