If any of my competitors were drowning, I’d stick a hose in their mouth.

Ray Kroc

The fiercest competition that I have ever faced was confronting my own demons and overcoming them; the second fiercest was besting my best performances. We live in a world where competition reigns supreme. We adore the fastest, the strongest, the smartest – The Best! But the challenge with competition is that most of it is externally motivated, rather than inwardly directed.  With full disclosure, I have engaged in externally motivated competition many times throughout my journey; it began on the little league field, and it pursued me through young adulthood.

I’m “all in” when it comes to a good game of Tennis or scrabble (well, maybe not scrabble with my wife, who always beats me to a pulp!). However, we have all encountered people who are constitutionally incapable of enjoying a friendly game of anything without wanting to win so badly that they suck the joy out of everything involved in the activity. I see this behavior as a defect of character – something is definitely “off.”

I find it thought-provoking that many professional athletes, award-winning actors/actresses, popular musicians, and supremely successful businesspeople are worshiped like the gods on Mount Olympus – simply because they can throw a wicked fastball, win an academy award, have millions of fans, or have a net worth in the tens of millions of dollars. Sadly, these individuals are oftentimes deeply troubled, and despite all the accolades, have a proverbial “hole in the soul.”

But here is the rub when it comes to competition that is entirely externally motivated – if we are focused on something or someone “outside of us,” our performance is likely to suffer. In the real estate world, Agents will oftentimes spend so much money on marketing (just so they can collect a plastic trophy at the awards banquet), that they are functionally broke. But they are number 1 in their companies for sure! It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

When our focus is external, we cut off our creativity and there is a strong temptation to mimic and copy-cat others – i.e., to compete rather than to create!

Today, I will examine my beliefs about competition, and ask myself some pretty tough questions.

© John G. 2022

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