Alan Bishop worries we talk too much about the negative aspects of competition instead of focusing on all the positives.
Losing sucks. My father in-law had a saying: “Show me a person who likes to lose and I’ll show you a loser”. Popular opinion agrees—winning’s better than losing. And the sooner we teach our children to understand this is the way life is, the quicker they’ll develop their own unique skills to go out and compete in the world.
Life isn’t fair. Fair is what a referee gets paid for. Life doesn’t have a referee.
Has your child been swapped out of the game in order to put in a kid who “needs” their time on the field? Or are you the parent of that kid? How about a child coming home with a “participant medal” rather than a blue, red or green ribbon? You never see a participant medal hung up on display.
I believe we all don’t need to touch the ball. Not everyone’s earned the right to play the same amount on the field. The piece of pie doesn’t always need to be split equally. Sometimes people earn more than an equal share.
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” – Muhammad Ali
If you disagree and are already getting your protest comment ready consider this.
I hope you’re never shipwrecked and forced to survive with a group of strangers. At some point there’s only going to be 1 banana left and I’m sorry to say it but at the end of the day the ones who want it most are the ones who are going to eat.
There’s a group of young people being called Millennials and it’s said that they’ve been raised believing that everyone deserves an equal share. Ron Alsop in his book “The Trophy Kids Grow Up” talks about the dilemma of believing that participation is enough for a reward.
Successful people don’t just participate in life; they LIVE a life which they earn. They understand that getting ahead is all about the time, effort and dedication you put in towards your given pursuit(s).
Playing Call of Duty all day will only make you good at Call of Duty—If you can find employment at it great but don’t expect it to pay for your Xbox Gold Membership. (Oh yeah…that’s what Mom and Dad are for. Good thing the credit card is on file with MicroSoft.) Funny, it’s just not like that in the real world. In the real world the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and those in the middle are heading over to the poor side.
Today, our growing workforce are young adults who’ve been raised by soccer Moms and baseball Dads that screamed from the sidelines “Let my Child Play” instead of taking the time to help their child perfect their chosen sport or practice.
These kids have grown up with a sense of entitlement that won’t serve them once Mommy and Daddy are out of the picture. The kids reaping rewards will be the ones who’ve experienced first hand that there’s no substitute for hard work. The kids who’ve been encouraged to experience failure and learn from it. The kids who’ve rolled up their sleeves and prepared for a fight. These are the kids who will join the rich.
The others…those beautiful, caring, sharing, kind and gentle young adults are the ones I worry about.
I worry that these children will grow up and be left wondering:
Why is it that the aggressive asshole just got another promotion?
Why does the jerk who always speaks up at meetings now lead the division?
Why is it that the smarmy greaseball who approaches every pretty girl at the bar is always going home with them?
What trait might they all have in common?
How about the ability and desire to compete or the deep, passionate conviction to go after what they wanted. This desire is that elusive fuel that sparks their action.
I was 12 years old the first time I beat my Dad at something. I beat him at golf.
My Dad was considered to be quite an athlete when he was younger. He was a baseball player and even had a certificate signed by President Eisenhower congratulating him on the Pony World Championships. He had major league scouts knocking at his door before alcohol got the better of him and washed that dream away.
Beating my Dad was an achievement. He never once let me win. He made me hole every putt and held me accountable at all times to the strict rules of golf. He taught me that if I wanted to get better I needed to put in the time and practice.
On this day it was over before we set foot on the back nine. I can still hear my golf spikes clicking on the cart path as I walked to the tenth tee box.
I knew I had him, he was beaten. I don’t remember what the end result was other than I won for the first time.
I’d like to tell you that the day ended well. I’d like to say that we celebrated this small Rite of Passage of a Son beating a Father but instead the night was a hard one for me. On a night where competition, camaraderie and bonding could have occurred instead I once again was forced to engage in battle with the demons of my father’s alcoholism. He didn’t lose well.
But I did learn from this.
They were taught the importance of training hard in practice to perform in competition. I also taught them that compassion is as important as the victory. That through defeat you sometimes learn as much as in victory. The lesson might not be as immediately rewarding but the lesson is timeless.
If however, the boys never had the chance to compete there would be no lesson. If I never encouraged them to face the challenge, to get knocked down and then get up again they wouldn’t have a point of reference for life.
They couldn’t learn how to be successful by being given “equal time on the field”. Life doesn’t work like that. They had to experience the spirit of competition.
It’s imperative we teach our children the benefits of competition and how it prepares them for life.
We’ve all felt or know of those situations where kids are picked last in a school yard game. It sucks.
Imagine though, how life changing it is when at the end of the year that same child has gone from last pick to 1st pick. The same child was taught that competition was good. That same child was encouraged to put in the hard work, develop the necessary mindset and spend time honing their skills.
Imagine the overwhelming sense of pride that can gained and carried forward to the next challenge if they just learn to compete.