Are you competitive? Did you grow up playing sports? If, so there’s a good chance you are competitive.
I am. My family thinks I am more so than I really am. But I guess that’s simply a perspective on how we interpret or understand what being competitive means.
Some people think that if you are competitive that by default you believe in winning at all costs. This includes bending the rules, or out-right cheating, as well as taking liberties on a fellow opponent. And that’s not me.
Competition to me is about testing yourself. And exposing yourself to find your weaklinks. And it’s about a continued desire to get better. I also think the more competitive you are the more you are in control of your emotions and the better job you do at sticking to your plan.
For example, in team sports you will see examples of an athlete do something stupid that results in his team being penalized. And commentators will excuse or condone it saying the athlete is just ‘such a competitor’. I disagree. I say they were selfish. They lost focus. They cared about exacting revenge more than about success.
Or another example could be in competition when another competitor passes you. And while you have a game plan in place you get sucked in to their game, abandon your strategy and compete with them. Personally this doesn’t tend to work well for me and I chalk it up to losing focus and racing someone else’s race and not my own.
But this all has to with defining competition and the psychology of it all.
Instead I want to share the benefits of competition. And why I think everyone should compete. Below are The Top 8 Reasons to Compete.
- Your Learn the Most About Yourself – Competition is interesting because you don’t really get a do over. If you mess up your sleep, nutrition, warm-up or enter with a poor strategy you won’t get the result you want. Other times everything goes according to plan and you have a great day. Either way more lessons are learned in one competition, regardless of what it is, than over many training sessions.
- It Holds You Accountable – Leading up to the Axel Merckx Gran Fondo and the Big White race I would get up at 4 am to be on my bike by 5 am. I would then be able to get in 2.5 hours of riding before heading to the gym to work and train clients. But guess what? If I hadn’t entered those races I may have stayed up to watch another episode on Netflix. And then I wouldn’t have felt the urge to get up and head out while it was still dark out.
- You Can Develop New Strength – Obviously you can get physically stronger from a competition. But personally I get mentally stronger. I enjoy training in adverse conditions like cold, wind, rain etc because I’ll be used to them on race day. And if it turns out to be a nice day, even better. But competing,testing and pushing yourself helps make you stronger mentally.
- You Get to Be an Example – I know I am not the strongest, fastest or fittest person to train at our gym. But I am similar to our clients in many ways. I am married. I have two daughters. I work full-time. I’ve had two ACL surgeries. There is a history of health issues in my family. And I know many of our clients can relate to many of these features about me. I want them to know they could do it as well. I want to be an example and help show them the way. Maybe you aren’t a fitness professional but you can inspire others. Maybe you have kids, students or athletes in your charge. Maybe there is a neighbour or family member that would be inspired to get started by seeing what you can do.
- It Promotes Growth – I remember reading something about personal development and the analogy was a unicycle. When you don’t pedal the unicycle it’s hard to balance, progress is difficult and the process can be frustrating. As soon as put in an effort the path straightens, it’s easier to balance and you start making progress. Competition is similar. When we’re not testing ourselves it’s as though we’ve stopped pedalling on the unicycle.
- It Gets Us Out of Our Comfort Zone – Part of our biology requires that we be exposed to new external stimuli. You can think of this as the necessity of a new born to be held during development or for us to learn skills. Either way we get better when we are challenged. For me the most rewarding experiences have been when I’ve put myself out there and challenged myself in the most uncomfortable way possible. For example, last year I entered a triathlon on short notice. I didn’t know anyone else doing it. I hadn’t done enough running or swimming. It was out of town. It rained all through the race. There were lots of reasons to not do the race. But I’m glad I did. And I set a PB. Don’t wait for life to be perfect because it never will. The more adverse the conditions you overcome makes success that much sweeter.
- It Prepares Us for Life – We’re getting a little soft. And I don’t mean in the literal sense as my friend JM would say ‘a soft white underbelly’. I mean soft in the sense that more and more words aren’t PC. We need to have safe spaces on university campuses. Comedian Adam Corolla says when we first sent astronauts into space we noticed they lost muscle mass and bone density due to not being exposed to gravity. This made the astronauts smaller and weaker. Gravity was a good thing for them and removing it created physical problems. Competition toughens us up in a similar way that gravity does. And it prepares us for life. Too often nowadays we hear that you just need to want something and put it on a vision board. Sorry but this isn’t how life works. Competition ranks. It determines winners and losers. And it prepares us for when we will be faced with this in life.
- It’s Fun – These days I’m more interested in investing in experiences than gadgets. At the top of my life are travels with my family and entering competitions. I can still remember getting shocked at the finish line of Tough Mudder in Whistler. (that’s the picture over the desk at the gym). And I can remember my buddy squirting me in the ear with a water bottle during a triathlon. And I can remember the satisfaction of all of our clients as they completed Mudd, Sweat & Tears last year.
Hopefully one or more of these reasons to compete will move you to register for a race. And when you do let me know. Not only will we be able to help you prepare but there’s a good chance I’ll see you at the start line.
You coaches and I will be doing Mudd, Sweat & Tears on August 26 at Big White. This is an 8 km event with obstacles to complete. I know all of our clients could complete this. And in if you’re on the face but thinking ‘I don’t want to get left behind’, don’t worry. We run this as a team. When we approach an obstacle we wait for everyone to complete the challenge before running on to the next one. So we really do complete the race as a team. And it’s a blast.