The Weekly Dream: May The Best Man Win
Question of the Week: What does it take to be competitive? Where are you most competitive?
I love March. Other than the third month being my birthday month, it is home to March Madness, arguably the most competitive event in all of sports. I cannot get enough of the upsets and the excitement. But more importantly, competition shows your character. I am always interested to see who is going to step up under pressure and who is going to fold. March Madness is a microcosm for life.
What Makes the World Go Round
Lately, I have a heightened sensitivity to where competition manifests itself in the world. It is so common that we tend to overlook its importance. Our economy, our school systems, our legal systems, and our national history are all deeply rooted in an adversarial mindset. Indeed, we are trained through sports and school for the sole purpose of being able to compete in the local and global market.
Now when I was growing up, I learned that although competition is a way of life, it is not fair. There were many times in my childhood where I felt that the cards were unfairly stacked against me. But I soon realized that life cares nothing about your struggles. You have to play the hand you are dealt to the best of your abilities. Why you may have been dealt a bad hand is something to ask God at the Pearly Gates, but until then, the challenge is to try your hardest to surmount every obstacle/challenge placed in front of you.
How Can We Compete?
In light of this realization, I have noted a few points that have helped me when the chips were down.
First, you have to put the outcome out of your head. It does not matter whether you win or lose. If you are focused on the outcome, you are not focused on performance/execution. Also, the fear of failure begins to creep in when you take your eyes off of what is in front of you.
Second, you need to foster a mental toughness and swagger about your ability to meet the challenge.
Third, and probably most important, you need to prepare yourself for the task at hand. Professionals spend a lot of time practicing, and very little time performing. For amateurs, it is the other way around. Take a professional view towards life. Do not practice until you get it right, practice until you cannot get it wrong.
I know there are some things that you can never prepare for, and life sometimes throws punches below the belt. But if you foster the attitude and toughness, you will always find a way back to your feet.
The Weekly Dream