Monday, March 03, 2008

The benefits of competition

After reading this post from Jason Dyer, guest blogger at Dangerously Irrelevant, and the start of our adrenaline inducing Reading Challenge, I began thinking about why I love competition so much. I remember running in a relay race one summer in junior high. I got the baton as the last runner and was well behind the first place runner, however right behind me was Ron, a monster combination of speed and power. My only goal was to keep as far away from Ron as I could. I took off with my eyes in the rear view mirror running like crazy. Not only did I somehow keep Ron from catching me, but being spurred on by his menacing presence I shot past the other fellow who had the lead going into the final and our team won the race. My point is that running in the canyon behind my house could never have produced the effort and stamina I exerted that day because of my little friend called "competition". Running against others motivated and inspired me to do things I didn't think possible.

The eventual goal of competition is to compete with yourself, however sometimes one needs to measure oneself against ones "peers" to determine if you've really reached the limits of your potential. That picture of Jesse Owens reminds me of the Germans in Berlin in1936 who thought quite highly of themselves and were humbled by the feats of the amazing Owens.

So, for starters, competition spurs us on to achieve to our highest potential and it also helps us gauge our high achievement against standards outside of ourselves, thus showing us what is truly possible. And finally, competition is a whole lot of fun. Everybody gets excited and that enthusiasm and energy help build bigger and better accomplishments for everyone. I think I've got a lot more to say about this topic, but I need an early night's sleep or I wont' even be able to beat a 1st grader in a race to the cafeteria lines.

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