There are a number of articles debating that life is a competition or it is not. Maybe that is too harsh a line to draw – it is a competition or it is not? A more accurate statement might be that life is full of competition. If there is ever anything significant that you want, be prepared to compete for it. “Significant” is an important detail. While learning to compete, it is important that you do not make every single thing a competition. Let the unimportant things go – you do not actually need to be first in line at every store you go to, you don’t need to race the car next to you up to that red light, and you don’t have to beat your friends at every video game match you play. While learning to compete, you need to learn what to compete for and what to let go.
Competition in Life
What do you compete for? What is important to you? Are you the first one on the lunch line so you can get the table you want in the cafeteria? Or are you more focused on bigger things? Things like getting the part in the school play, earning first chair in the orchestra, or getting a spot on the team. What we compete for grows with us as we age. Have you ever watched toddlers play together? At some point they will want the same toy – competition on. When we go to school opportunities for competition flourish. Setting aside being first in line or being the teacher’s favorite there is still getting the best grades, your place in social hierarchy, plays, bands, sports, and social clubs. You can finish school but you will not be finished competing. There is still a social hierarchy wherever you go and somewhere in the course of all this competing we add dating. You have other things life altering things to obtain as well. Things like a good job, financial security, and a place to live.
How do you prepare?
First, choose your battles. You can accomplish many many things but probably not everything and certainly not everything all once. Unlike what some of us dream of being as child, the percentage of Astronaut-Doctor-Firefighter-Cowboys out there in the job market is pretty low. So choose. You do not have to choose just one thing, but you will be more successful if you do not choose everything all at once. For example, financial security may be easier to obtain if you focus on getting a good job first.
Second, learn how to lose. That sounds counter to what we usually hear. We are frequently taught that competition is all about winning. However understanding how tolose without allowing losing to erode your self esteem or break your healthy attitude can set the groundwork for lifelong success. Whenever there is competition there is a winner. Most of the time there is also a loser. Just because you want something and try for it does not mean you will get it. What do you do when you don’t get it. Do you accuse your competitor of cheating and malign them on Facebook before you go to your room and pout? Or do you try again?
Of course there is also actual learning and refining skills for what you plan to compete in. If you want to win getting a job, make sure you are qualified for it and practice interviewing. If you want a place on the team, practice your sport so you are good at it. There are many details you can get into once you decide what you want to compete for.
Other than specific detailed preparation for what you choose to do, the other thing to learn is how to win. At first glance that may sound ridiculous. Doesn’t everyone already know that. It is what you are trying to do and it feels good. Who doesn’t know how to win? Some people get caught in a cycle of fearing failure that they sabotage their efforts to win. They worry so much that they will not succeed that the worry takes over and the failure becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Some people need to learn to be okay with being happy and successful.
There is another side to learning to win. Learn to be gracious. Watch very young children sometime. The toddlers competing for that toy for example. Have you noticed what happens when one of them gets it? The victorious child smiles and is very happy. Frequently the other child bursts into tears. Sometimes the child who won, will taunt the child who lost. This is where learning to win comes in. Taunting the losing side is not necessary. That can be you next time. Winning is great, but because you win once it does not guarantee that you will win all the time, or even next time.
One of the best ways to prepare to compete in life is by participating in sports.
Most of the skills you need to navigate life’s competitions are found in sports. Sports have matches, meets, bouts, or games all the time. You have a chance to practice preparing, winning, losing, and just participating in something. You have a chance to earn your place on the team. If you do not get the one you want, you have a chance to figure out what to improve in your play so you have a better chance to get that place next time or even later in the season. Sports, when done well, will help you learn how to try, how to work through the moments when you want to quit, how to start over and try again when things do not go your way.
Trying and working through challenges helps prepare you mentally. Because of their nature, sports will help prepare you physically. To excel in sports, you have to put some effort into your physical condition. Keeping your body in good condition helps you in everything you do.
Not every sport is for every person. Part of the reason we have so many sports is so everyone can find ones that they enjoy. If you do not like the idea of touching another person, wrestling probably is not for you – but maybe tennis is. If you don’t like playing outside you might like basketball or swimming instead of baseball.
We like a lot of different sports but we are a little bias toward martial arts. We see in it the best parts of all the other sports plus many other benefits. If you are looking for your sport or trying to find something for your child come in and check things out.
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