“A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It’s all a matter of pride.” (Nancy Lopez quote)
I am competitive. I am a competitor in my life, not in life. I have never failed because I look at losses as opportunities to better prepare myself to win the next time. I compete against my best self, not against other people. This is something I have learned through my experiences in this world. I use my competitors to my advantage by befriending them and seeing how they may be taking a different approach.
I compete with my husband in an innocent manner when it comes to working out. Out of the two of us, I am the Cardio Queen and he is the King of weight lifting. If he comes back from the gym and has out run me, I feel like it’s a secret challenge for me to run a little bit further. The funny part is that he has no idea that I have created this entire competition in my mind. On days I feel like a can’t make it through my run at the gym, I make sure to place myself near someone who is running and set my goal to run faster, longer and on a higher incline than them. It helps get me through the workout and the person I have been “competing” with never knew what was going on in my head. It is in this innocent and playful matter than I can help push myself harder and further at the gym.
In life, if I feel inadequate at a particular skill I look to someone who I believe to be better than me and befriend them. I went to college when I was 18 and by 19 I had dropped out because I didn’t see the point in continuing when I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. When I was about 21-22 I worked with a woman named Megan who was a few years older than me.One day we got to talking about school. She told me that she had a degree and I was instantly jealous and felt inadequate since I only have 1-1/2 years of school under my belt. I confessed to her that I wish I was as smart as her and this made her laugh. She said something to me that I will never forget, ” Mon, it’s not about being smarter, it’s sometimes about having the patience to be in school for 4 years. Someone with a degree is someone who had 4 years to sit in a classroom in school. That person may have more knowledge on a subject but less life experience using the skill they are learning in school. At the end of the day, it’s a piece of paper that may help you land a better job. That’s all it is a piece of paper.” A year later, I went back to school. I took my competitiveness to school with me and graduated with my Bachelor degree.
When I worked at a gym, one of the other Spin Instructors ran marathons. I considered myself to be a runner but had never ran in an actual race. She was about 10 years older than me and had more stamina for running than me. I was jealous of her ability to run 26.2 miles and her disciplined diet to be able to complete those miles. I sat with my jealousy for a few months, until I realized that my jealousy stemmed from my own desire to complete a full marathon. My competitive side decided that I didn’t want to waste my time on shorter races because I wanted to do the entire marathon and was willing to take the necessary steps to prepare myself for a big race. I approached the lady, complimented her on her achievements and then asked for advice. For three months I trained myself to run the 26.2 miles. I ran it successfully and felt very proud of myself that I didn’t let the fear if failing keep me from accomplishing my goal. In other people’s eyes, I have failed at many things. In my eyes, I have learned the necessary lessons to get me to where I am today. Success is failure turned inside out.
When it comes to the material and superficial things in life, I have found that there is never a winner because there will always be someone better, smarter, richer, thinner and prettier than you. Do not compete with anyone but your best self. Use those that you envy to your advantage by befriending them and learning from them. Then, by taking what you learn go out and face your life with an edge; a competitive edge.
There are some downfalls to being competitive though. My family refuse to play Monopoly with me. =)