Sept. 13, 2022

Friendly Competition - It Does Exist!

Friendly Competition - It Does Exist!

Friendly competition is meant to create motivation without hurting feelings. Friendly competition?  Heck, I like my friends, why would I want to compete?

In Episode 41 I reflect on what friendly competition means to me.  I am not perfect, and I think the older I get, the less competitive I am. Although I am not a competitive person by nature, I recall being extremely motivated to win a board game with a friend when I was younger.  We were 9 years old, and best of buddies. The game was getting a little heated, with suspicious minds thinking the other might be cheating. I got a little snarky, and I think my friend did too.  It almost ruined a great night, and good thing the snacks came out because it diverted us from making remarks that could ruin a good friendship. We were just kids, and as they say, kids will be kids. The good thing is we figured it out and recognized our friendship was more important, and we went back to being good sports. At 9 years old we had enough sense to know that we didn’t always have to be number 1.

What makes us competitive? Does being competitive mean we have more drive and stamina, or is it simply a by-product of wanting to be in the limelight? When does competition become a race for success at someone else’s expense?  I don’t have the answers, but it’s a topic I covered in my podcast episode.

We learn about competition along with compassion at a very young age.  I recall pretending to race with my kids when they were little. I usually let them win, especially if my age and size put me at an unfair advantage. I also played board games with my children, and sometimes made a wrong move simply to give them a chance to be first. I did not let them win all the time though, as we all need to come in second from time to time and part of our role as parents is to each our kids good sportsmanship.

Children often compete for their parent’s attention.  When there are two children, the older one can sometimes feel slighted when the new baby arrives. It is not uncommon for an older child to act up and try to be the center stage when the new baby comes home. Make it three children, and the middle child can struggle to keep up with the achievements of the older sibling and the cuteness of the baby. After four or more, everyone is adjusting to their spot and together they are competing for the attention of their parent. The more kids there are, the less one on one time is possible, even with the most well -intentioned parents.

Competition can follow into adulthood, even in the workplace. Have you ever gone to a job interview and discovered that you really needed to sell yourself? Perhaps there are several other applicants for that position, and now it truly is a job competition. I have never had an issue selling a product or service I believe in, yet I have never enjoyed having to promote myself as a future employee if I knew there was competition. Some people thrive on it.

Remember the old saying “keeping up with the Joneses?” I’ve seen it, and that is a competition I don’t like to embark on. The quest to be the best of the best on the block can be very tiresome. Yup, my bike is faster than your bike doesn’t just stay on the playground. It follows into adulthood, but the toys become bigger.  Cars, trucks, houses, boats, snowmobiles and so on.  Some people find that as soon as they buy something, their neighbor must go out and buy one also, only bigger. It doesn’t just happen with neighbors; I have seen it happen with families also. The good old sibling rivalry comes back to life in later years and puts a strain on relationships. 

Corporate competition is a whole other subject. When you hear companies put down their competitors as part of their campaign, it really does turn me off buying there.  I don’t mind if your company tells me what you can do that stands out, but no need to be nasty about your competition. It’s ok to play nice in the sandbox, even as an adult.

Years ago I worked with a wonderful radio host. She was such a great lady, and she had such a zest for life. She had the most beautiful on-air voice and a smile that would warm your heart for days. I recall when she fell in love with the man she is still married to today. She told me that she would never try to be who she wasn’t, because she wasn’t in this world to compete with anyone. Her exact words were “someone will always be thinner, prettier or have more money and if I focused on that it would drive me nuts. I’m just happy to be me”. A great attitude goes a long way and removing the competition factor in daily living can really remove a lot of stress.

It doesn’t matter who has the newest truck or biggest house. Great meals can come from a gourmet kitchen or a tiny home on wheels.  Does anyone really remember whose baby crawled first, or who got the first tooth, when that baby is now standing at the graduation podium?  Do you feel you need to compete so that everyone can see you bring value to the world?  Think again.  The value you bring comes in the helping hand you offer, the food that you share, the compassion you show for those around you. 

Here is the link to the episode I referred to in this blog post:

Have a great week everybody, and remember as you head out that smiles come in all languages and in all colors.