COMPETE! 4 Lessons Competition Teaches Us

Competition is one of the best natural teaching tools that we as human beings have. Is that what it has always been intended to be? Well, I would have a hard time believing that the gladiators of the ancient Roman Empire wanted to battle to the death for teaching purposes, but throughout the course of time, competition has evolved into much more than just a source of entertainment or self-gratification. It has turned into much more than just an event to find out who the biggest winner or loser is, or who has the most talent.

Competition ignites one of the biggest life processes that all of us, young or old, can use in order to succeed in our individual lives. Competition presents the opportunity to grow.

What is Competition?

Competition can be defined as “the effort of two or more parties acting independently to consciously or unconsciously reach an objective.” To put it simply, competition is fighting for a desired outcome or goal that yourself, or your organization, ultimately wants. But why didn’t it say the word win or lose? Because that’s not the most important aspect of competition. What is, however, is the personal or team growth that takes place in victory or defeat. Both instances present valuable lessons that we can use in our everyday lives.

The growth and life lessons that can happen in competition are endless. Among many others, here are four vital lessons that competition teaches us, and why we all need competition in life.

Responding To Adversity

Every game isn’t going to go how you want it to go. No matter how good an individual or team is, at some point in time, they’re going to lose. It could be a play, an inning, a half, or a whole game. Sooner or later, a loss will happen. Yes, this is the part of competition that unfortunately doesn’t feel too good. But it’s also the most important moment or time for a person as an athlete, or just as an individual.

Your response determines the outcome of the situation. How do you handle a loss? Do you quit? Do you feel sorry for yourself? Do you let it ruin your entire season? The same can apply to life after athletics. Let’s say someone doesn’t get into the school they wanted to go to, or has a poor month at work, or gets fired from their job. Is that hard situation going to dictate the outcome of the rest of their life?

Losing in anything presents a fork in the road for any individual. You can either let the loss bleed into the rest of your life, or you can let it fuel you for your next big break. Either road you choose to travel, the choice is yours.

Avoiding Complacency

Robert Zell, founder of Brasscraft Manufacturing, said it best, “Complacency is the enemy of excellence. An organization that is never satisfied, is an organization that always satisfies.”

Satisfaction says that you’re comfortable, and if you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. Whether it be as an athlete, businessman or woman, student, or anyone else, growth only occurs when you’re uncomfortable. Competition keeps that fire that was there from the start alive and burning. You can’t afford to put your feet up. You can’t afford to say you “made it.” Because the moment that you do, is the moment that you fall to the bottom of the totem pole.

Competition teaches us that there is always someone out their working and pushing to pass you up. Oh, you’ve won a good amount of games/matches or earned a certain amount of money for your company last year? Well, stay hungry and keep working on your craft. That company/team working right behind you didn’t like the loss you handed them and their new main goal is to humble you really quick!

Communication and Comradery

Working with a team is an extremely rewarding task, but it’s definitely not always the easiest thing in the world to do. But the bottom line is this: you need your team or organization to be all in with you AND for you, to win upcoming matchups or reach any desired personal goals.

Working through hard things together, whether it be training, practice, tournaments, etc., molds individuals together and creates a special bond. Is it sunshine and rainbows all the time? Absolutely not. Disagreements within a team or with a coach happen often, but they can be worked through. It’s these instances that teach the true value of communication. That communication then plays an extremely important role in the team’s success. Then down the line, when that conflict happens between you and your boss and/or co-workers, you can revert back to the lessons you learned from that one team conflict you had back in high school with your state championship softball team. You and your team used that hard time and turned it into something special then, so why not do the same thing now?!

Hard Work Pays Off

This has to be the most gratifying feeling that competition has to offer. To put so much work into something, and one day reap the reward, is a truly indescribable feeling. To get that promotion, get that trophy, win that big game, and look back at everything it took to get there and know that all of it was worth it, is arguably the most valuable lesson we can take from competing.

Great things in life don’t just happen by accident. Big wins as an individual or as a team require a lot of hard work and commitment to the process, and to one another. It is never easy, but it is most certainly rewarding. The lesson to be learned is that when we’re struggling to go on, we can look back at our past achievements and how good it felt to get there. Competition gives us the ability to use our past successes as an extra boost to keep pushing forward during tough times in anything that we choose to do.

Whether it be competing against yourself or against another team, competition presents more growth for individuals and society than people realize. Is the outcome always going to be good? Most likely not. However, the outcome, sooner or later, is going to be good ONLY if you let it. Don’t just compete to win trophies or to be able to say you’re the best. Compete to learn. Compete to grow.