Competition

My daughter is learning how to play soccer. Not only is she learning skills with the ball, she’s learning about teamwork and sportsmanship.soccer ball

She’s also beginning to learn how to compete well.

I think we must be born with the instinct to me. When we are little we “compete” with others for the same toy. When we grow up we sometimes “compete” with others for bigger toys. It can get ugly in either case. The toddler has a tantrum when the other toddler gets the toy. When the adult finds that someone else’s toy is bigger than his or hers, well they compensate by buying an even a bigger toy.

Competing poorly brings out the dark side in everyone.

I grew up in a generation of women where as young girls, we didn’t always know how to compete well. When it came to careers, women who were college graduates didn’t always automatically get the great sales job or entry-level management position that gave them upward mobility. It was not uncommon for these young women, including young women like me, to start out in administrative jobs so they could work their way up to an entry-level upwardly mobile job, whereas young men could bypass the admin job and could walk into the management trainee job, giving them more upward mobility. Sometimes because we women had to fight harder to get what we wanted, we would fight harder with each other. Instead of pulling each other up, there was a tendency to push each other out of the way.

I can think back on times in my life where I competed poorly. It didn’t happen often, but when was never pretty. Stomping on someone else, and going for the jugular just to get what you want, no matter what is just plain ugly. In my own experience, I never won as much when I played like that. I also didn’t like how I felt afterward, even if I did win. Everyone in the situation walks away angry or hurt, and the relationship is irreparably damaged. It’s not good.

Competing well is so much better. Competing well fosters long lasting relationships, and encourages communities to work together for the better of everyone.

Take the blogging community for example. There are a large number of mommy bloggers and food bloggers out there basically competing for the same audience. But instead of pushing each other out of the way, or berating one another to make themselves look better, bloggers work together to help support other bloggers. Anyone can have a piece of the pie. It doesn’t matter where they live, or who they are, they just have to be friendly, professional and be willing to help out. They contribute to and are happy for others successes. They compete well.

That’s why I’m glad my daughter is learning about teamwork and sportsmanship at such a young age. I hope to give her an example as she grows up of fighting for what she wants in life without pushing others out of the way. It can be tricky, and others may not always play nice, but if she stays strong and competes well, she can go far.

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