Welcome to Game Two in our three-post series on competition! Last week, we explored the differences between competition and comparison, and what an ugly game the latter can turn into.
When you compare, you rob the world of what you have to offer, of the gifts with which you have been uniquely equipped by the One who created you.
Today, with our lens adjusted squarely on competition, we turn our attention to the thing that makes some thing, well…a competition: those other people who want the same thing you do.
Sizing Up the Competition
So a lot of people will tell you, especially in pageantry and other non-team activities, that you are really just competing against yourself in a competition. Improved PR’s, higher scores, whatever it may be: it’s all about you. And I get why they say it – it speaks truth into the idea that if you put your best foot forward, work your hardest, and visualize success, then you are a winner in some fashion from what you gained, no matter the outcome.
This idea is simultaneously complete truth and complete bologna.
A competition doesn’t exist without other people, people! By nature, it’s definition includes a measure of greatness, or lack thereof. A method for ranking and recognizing those who are the best in the field. And where did this measure or standard or ranking come from? The prior success of others. So whether you are directly in competition with someone else, or find yourself indirectly competing against a standard or measure – other people, who want what you want, are involved.
So we know we are going to be up against others to try to win or gain something in a competition. The question is, how do I bring my best to the competition, knowing there are other people who want what I want?
I know this sounds incredibly simplistic but…here it is. IGNORE THE CRAP OUT OF THEM.
I mean it. Get off your Facebook or SnapChat or whatever is the newest and greatest form of social media. Don’t scour the interwebs for your rival’s greatest accomplishments or biggest failures. Quite worrying/obsessing/scheming about how well or unwell your competitors are doing!
I think it is very natural to look around and “size up” your competition. We think it somehow gives us a benchmark of where we think we may produce in our own efforts. But here’s the thing: your ability to perform or succeed should have nothing to do with what other people are or are not doing. Because honestly, you don’t want to win because everyone else sucked! It’s pretty belittling to think, “Oh yeah, I won that competition but that’s only because so-and-so wasn’t there.” You want to win because you represent yourself the best way possible, and it was impossible for you to not win regardless of who is or isn’t competing around you.
Sometimes this can be especially hard when said competitors are actually using their accomplishments as a mind-game to stab at your confidence and bolster their own successes. So check out mentally when they start talking to you about all the great things they have done/are doing/will do. None of this is helpful for you as an individual who is trying his or her best to achieve victory in a competition.
The bottom line? You can’t control anything about the way other people perform in a competition, but you can control how you perform. And those subconscious daggers to your confidence will eventually translate to your judges/scores/performance.
Stop researching them and start improving you.