For those that know me, the news that I spend most Sunday mornings standing in the rain watching my 8-year-old son play football is not new but having realisations about competition is.
In fact, they will probably tell you that I moan about having to get soaking wet every week. It’s such a first world problem that I am a little ashamed and also, I’m there for my son and that should be enough to get me through it. But what can I say? I’m a bit of a grouch sometimes!
The Sunday before Christmas, whilst I stood with the other parents, getting wet and extremely cold at 9 am to watch our team get beaten, I stopped and watched. By this I mean, I really watched what was going on. Normally I’m sort of half there and half thinking about the rest of the day or week. I don’t normally watch. Like really watch.
I could see the kids running around the pitch in the driving rain and I wondered what it was that made them do it. I mean I was only stood there getting wet but these kids were running around in shorts without hats on and with little blue icicles where there should have been hands.
It suddenly hit me, competition.
Competition was the reason. You only had to open your ears to take in the noise of the place.
This led me on to thinking about whether competition was a good thing. I know it’s good in business, but I feel competition has been relegated to the back of the cupboard in today’s society. Almost so that it almost feels like a taboo word these days, especially when talking about education of our children.
I was told at school;
“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, It’s the taking part that counts.”
Is that true? In an ideal world, I’d like to think so but I don’t think we live in an ideal world.
So, what does competition do for us?
Competition helps us to mute the critics and builds our confidence.
I think this is one and the same. We all have critics around us and also inside of us that tell us we are no good. That we can’t achieve what we want. That it doesn’t matter if you start now, in a couple of weeks you will just quit anyway. Competition helps turn this noise off and concentrate on the game at hand. I know that by just not listening to your critics, you will become more confident, without all that baggage weighing you down how could you not be?
Competition helps you to find faults – in the work of others.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about picking faults with others but merely identifying them. Allowing you to learn from them and avoiding the same pitfalls. That’s giving you a leg up straight away. We all need a helping hand.
Competition increases productivity and encourages new ideas and working practices.
Exactly what it says on the tin. With the thought of competition driving you forward you will work harder for longer, go to more fitness sessions and research proper technique on YouTube. When times get tough and you want to quit, you won’t. Competition will keep you going.
Personally, I’m not the most competitive person. I don’t have to win at everything I do. Just ask my brother in law about the last 10 years of squash we have played together. I haven’t won a single match and I just don’t care. He does though.
In other areas, competition is the driver for me. I have trained with people who are faster and stronger than me and who beat me at everything we do, most of the time. For some, that could be the reason why they give up and throw in the towel. For me, it is the reason I have become, stronger, fitter and better in my technique than if I was the best in the room. That competition has driven me on when I wanted to stop and made me train harder and smarter than I ever have before.
I have seen it in my clients whom I train both in my personal training sessions and at bootcamps that I run. People that had it not been for that element of competition would have stopped but instead carried on through the short-term discomfort. They kept coming back and have now become stronger, fitter and mentally tougher than they ever thought they could be.
You can do it to.
Keep it simple
This was first published on Fitbox Blog in January 2018