Embracing competitiveness and the art of competition
24 May 2021
By Chris Giacoumakis
The Art of Competition
What do you feel when you hear the word ‘competition’? Do you feel anxious, excited, motivated, fearful, energised or simply sheer terror? Do you feel a surge of motivation pump through your veins? Are you uncomfortable?
We all feel differently when we are faced with competition, or about to charter into ‘competition territory’, for a number of reasons – mostly stemming from our self-worth, potentially positive or negative past experiences, and whether the motivation to win is intrinsic or extrinsic – to name a few.
Competitions have been around for millennia. Think back to the Ancient Greeks – they loved their competitions and kicked off this passion by hosting the very first Olympic Games dating back to 776 BCE! The desire to compete and win, to reap rewards, celebrate, bathe in glory and victory, as well as be humbled and learn from losses – these are a fundamental part of human existence. Although coming out with a loss as opposed to victory may not always be received well, when any form of competition is approached with a positive and healthy mindset, it can be a highly effective tool for growth, evolution, and ultimately a pathway to building and bolstering one’s resilience.
Being competitive can be frowned upon by many, including ourselves. We may have negative associations with someone who is competitive or feel a surge of shame take over when we feel competitive, especially when we are around peers we have bonded with. The other problem is we often associate negative character traits with competitive people that are often antisocial and not ideal. Competitive people may be perceived to be ruthless, selfish, self-serving and all about short-term reward. However, is this really the case? Are we potentially confusing healthy competition with hyper-competitiveness?
If we really think about it, life itself is full of competitions and whether we like it or not, we are inevitably part of competitions – not only against others, but also against ourselves. So, we need to try and embrace it, reframe our perspective around competition and being competitive, and explore the benefits it can bring. That is not to say ultra-competitiveness can be detrimental and toxic, but it is more about approaching competitiveness from a balanced and healthy angle. So we thought we’d help kick off that process by putting together a list of benefits on the art of competition and giving yourself(and our children ) permission to be competitive! Check out our list below:
It can help you manage your emotions better
Entering competitions – whether it is a short running race, fighting over the TV remote, playing a game of chess or entering a state-wide or national competition – is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, manage your emotions and learn how to work under pressure. Before the competition starts, you should identify, sit with and work with the emotions you are experiencing in order for you to compete successfully. Channelling that nervous energy or competition high (or alternatively processing the low) can all be wonderful tools for becoming more emotionally intelligent and resilient.
It is a great opportunity to test yourself
Many of us do a number of courses, classes, attend training, get private lessons – but despite this, we often never really have a way to test ourselves and genuinely see how far we come. Entering a competition can be one way to help you identify and track your progress, as well as highlight areas that need further improvement. Becoming aware of our progress (or lack thereof) can help boost motivation to keep going, try harder, consider new strategies and continue to blossom!
It can help deliver a dose of confidence and resilience
Getting yourself to step outside of your comfort zone can be painfully hard and terrifying! It is by no means easy, but being a passive bystander in life can be just as hard and painful too! Through getting up and competing, you are sending a clear message to yourself and those around you: you believe in your abilities, your skills and the ability to recover no matter what! How empowering and incredibly brave is that? So if you find someone you care about (or yourself) shying away from competition, remind them (or yourself) that by simply stepping up to the plate, they give themselves a healthy dose of self-love, respect and resilience. It is also simply a wonderful experience which the outcome can not negate!
You can make new friends
Whenever you find yourself signing up for a competition, you inevitably meet new people who are passionate about the same things as you – what a great way to build a new friendship! They do not have to only have to be one of your competitors, they can also become your new mate and part of your support network! Not only have you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone, but have acquired new friends – how good is that?!
Winning feels awesome
Ok, let’s be honest – we all like to win! The buzz of winning can electrifying. Think about all the hard work you’ve put in, the time you have sacrificed, the torture you have subjected family and friends to along the way, the nervous energy, the adrenaline, the practice runs and now boom – you’ve walked away with the victory and the external gratification that comes along with that! There is no greater feeling than having your efforts and hard work appreciated, acknowledge and celebrated!
It feels awesome and fuels you to keep going and growing!
There are plenty more benefits to list and explore here, but we thought we’d leave you with our top five. Ultimately, any competition is about you taking your power back, harnessing your nervous energy to do great things, injecting yourself with healthy doses of self-love and confidence, but ultimately it teaches you to be resilient and rise up again, and again no matter what.
In the wise words of the great and beloved Madiba:
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
So now it is time to get up, again and again, and remember every time you do, you have already won, you are a more victorious and stronger version of your previous self!
If this has left you pumped to try something new and get out of your comfort zone, then why not leap into action by jumping in and challenge yourself by entering our Sydney Speaking Skills Competition running in June 2021. Preliminaries are open to all experience levels from Year 1- 8. Check out the link below for more info!