By Jennifer Bews
I have to admit I like a good competition and can get caught up in the desideration to win. I remember as a child I was so competitive I would get irrationally upset if I lost. I remember finally reaching a point of forcing myself to let go of my competitive attitude. It felt unhealthy for me since I would often feel resentment or anger towards my opponents. But I have to say those competitive thoughts still show their aggressive face on occasion.
The good thing is that my idea of what competition means took a drastic shift after I attended the Wisdom 2.0 Conference a few years back. This was a conference that made space for the intersection of wisdom and technology. Michael Gervais, a High-Performance Psychologist, spoke in regards to the mindful athlete. He wrote mindfulness programs for the Seattle Seahawks and was an elite athlete consultant for the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, UFC, US Olympic Team and Red Bull. Gervais highlighted that the traditional definition of competition was to compete together. It was never about competing against one another. I fell in love with this perspective and have hung on to that definition ever since.
There have been many other perspectives that have complemented this theory including Chinese philosophy. In Taoism it is believed that unless you surrender the outcome and hone your own skills and abilities you will never win the battle. It is less about your opponent and more about your own journey within. A childlike spirit of play in harmony.
Another example is in Russian chess. Even though chess is an individual sport, the Soviets strategize as a team to raise everyone’s abilities and skills. Capitalizing on past players knowledge and fellow competitors.
With these perspectives in mind, I work to approach business, sports and organized committees through the same lens.
In business, I believe more competition is better than none. This mitigates monopolies, creates opportunities for everyone to hone in on what they do best and encourage their competitors to do their best as well. It encourages everyone to rise to the occasion and provide the best products and service for all.
In sports, whether individual or team, it is a reminder that good, healthy competition is about you and your best and inspiring others to do their best as well. So many factors come in to play when a team or individual “wins”. It does not always mean the best man/woman or team won – it means they reached the goal a little more quickly within that given period of time.
In our communities, it allows for each member to bring our gifts and abilities in our own unique ways to ensure diverse conversations, representation and perspectives. It creates a sense of belonging without thinking or being exactly the same as your neighbour.
So, the next time you sense the dark side of competition rearing its head, just remember that there are good, healthy ways to compete in our businesses, sports and communities.
Let’s compete together to build a better future for all of us.
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