Let’s face it, life is a great competition. Most of us thrive on it. Why else would NFL football, America’s Got Talent, American Idol or any of these reality TV shows like Big Brother or Survivor be so popular (my quick survey shows that 13 of 30 prime time shows on CBS have to do with some type of competition/winning)? The releases of new game consoles like the upcoming Wii U, Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 are always big news and they are hot commodities. Why? They allow us to compete against cyber opponents and others. Our desire to compete and win fuels the marketplace!
We love to watch, participate, and win competitions! If we can’t win, we pick a pony like our favorite NFL team or player (RG III) or American Idol star and they win for us. If we can’t kick a football, or run a 4.9 40-yard dash, we might pick up a game console, and compete against our friends or maybe even some unknown rival over the internet.
Competition is healthy. It motivates us to be better, but it can be discouraging. Why? Because so much of what is involved in competitions is out of our control. We can’t control the quality of our opponent…they might actually be better, or they might just be having the “game of their life.” In team sports, we can’t control the actions of our teammates. On top of all of that, are external factors like weather, wind, a bad controller (on that Wii U you’re going to buy). Sometimes, you just have plain dumb luck, like a bad bounce or an untied shoe.
In real life, our competition may involve our standard of living, or the future for our family. If we perform our job better than others, we hope that we will get a raise, a promotion, a sale, etc. Of course, that does require that somebody actually notice our excellence. There certainly are ways to get noticed, but much of that is indeed out of our control…just like in friendly competition. It really is no different. The employee you are next to might be well-connected (or even the boss’ daughter). The boss might be watching right when you make the worst error you’ve had in months. That new product you are trying to sell just might not be what people want. These obstacles are all things to learn from, and improve upon…and maybe they make us work even harder.
So, if so much is out of my control, what am I to do? Here is what I try to do: I strive to produce the very best result I can under the conditions given. My goal is to be the very best I can be. When I am not doing so, I know it. In essence, I determine whether I’ve succeeded in everything I do. I am my own judge and jury, and if I honestly examine my inner self, there is no cheating. At the end of the day, I must look myself in the mirror and judge my actions.
Ha, I just snuck in some Stoicism 101…and you thought it was about football or that silly America’s Got Talent show, hee hee!