Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Competition is laced through everything we do in life. From sports to work to fellowship activities at church, we pour a win or lose attitude into nearly every facet of our lives. When we maintain that view of win or lose, we build ourselves and others up for exceptional expectations. It becomes something of a lifestyle that is perpetuated by the next bit of competition.

Competition as defined by the early Greeks was something that made each participant better. You competed to become a better athlete and player, not just to win. The idea was meant to reinforce ones activity in the market place while also boosting morale of all people. Anyone could compete and win, but becoming better by simply participating was the goal, along with the chance to know your competition. It is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of those whom you compete against, regardless of the arena. In time there is the opportunity to know and understand everyone that you might compete against, whether on the field or in business.

Thinking back to childhood it becomes apparent that we have been hardwired. From what I can tell, every society on this globe is affected by competition, no one is left out. We can attribute the Olympic Games as a possible bit of reasoning but even before the Olympic Games were held in Greece for the first time, there was competition between siblings.

As kids we had to compete for everything from a place to sit on the bus to a place on the soccer team at school to our favorite piece of silverware (seriously). We fought for everything and we played to win. We believed that no one played to lose, because why would you? Every day brought new opportunities to compete and if you got your favorite spoon on Monday, you wanted it on Tuesday too. There was never a time when we stopped, we were relentless.

That attitude spilled into our adult lives and we chased down everything because of that upbringing. We went after good jobs and good spouses and good places to live and good churches to attend. We wanted the best and we were willing to compete for it all. Win or lose this has always been about being on top and then bragging about it to our sibs and friends.

Today we are spirited people who see joy in competition but we have experienced too many sorrows as well. When we set ourselves up with a win or lose lifestyle we create guaranteed heartbreak for someone. In many a case throughout our lives, each of us has experienced the agony of defeat. Losing comes not only in sports remember, there is the somber fact of losing your job, or losing a loved one. Losing can be devastating and the sting can last for years. If you have had losses in your life and they have stacked up against other losses without too many wins, your heart takes a beating and recovery seems miles away.

Too much of our global society puts a do or die ultimatum on winning and the consequences of losing are too great for most humans to bear. The fragility of human life proves to us that when we take winning to this place we disregard the essence of human emotion, which is love. This is never more obvious than when witnessed through professional sports.

I know that my position is not popular but we are coming to a point where unless you win, you will not get paid. That idea is alive and well today as we watch the global economy suffer. There is only so much of this made up wealth to go around and eventually certain wells will dry up. Only the winners will walk away with a paycheck and winning will no longer be about sport, but the bottom line. Naturally this is only an opinion but I have certainly never been afraid to share that.

Let me take a step back and dissect something for you that means a lot to me; the heart of sport. Personally I love soccer and I love to play and coach and watch. I am fully aware that there are winners and losers but I also know that on any given day, the team you think is the worst will beat you and the team you think is the best will fail. I know that it takes a team to play this sport and without all the players working together, there is absolute chaos on the field. Teams that do not work together find they get humiliated and run over by clubs who value teamwork.

In the sense that sport produces the opportunity for teamwork, I am struck deeply by the idea that teamwork is something we need in the very framework of life. We need it in our homes, our work places, our churches and every aspect of society. We cannot build bridges and homes without it. Large corporations could not survive without it, neither could small business. Police, fire and emergency workers are trained in being team players. Our military would crumble without it, regardless of what the Army says in their commercials. Trust me when I tell you this, there is no such thing as an army of one and there never will be.

So back to the idea that winning is everything. That idea comes from the greed of one and is always perpetuated by one individual’s pursuit of winning at all costs. This is displayed by coaches and team owners alike, as well as CEOs and wealthy tycoons who see value in winning regardless of the toll it takes on anyone else. Typically these individuals are obsessed with wanting more of the same, and the word winning is only a displaced adjective for a much greater desire; accumulation of wealth and notoriety and the elevation of self.

That desire for more is not the same as the desire to be the best at whatever you do. In sports, being the best is a value. Wanting more is simple greed and there is no place for it in sports. If this seems relative to anything else in your life, then you might be paying attention. As children we have an opportunity to discover teamwork as well as individual value through sports. As we grow, the idea is to take those lessons and apply them to our relationships, our careers, our marriages and even our spiritual journeys.

We all make choices regarding our involvement on any given “team”; whether at work or at home or anywhere in your life. When you decide to be a team player you are effectively saying that you want the team to excel and you are willing to put forth the effort to get there.

So tell me; do you compete to win or get better? Is it possible to do both or should we just compete to get better? Society tells us to compete to win only but we have a chance to help each other get better, in every avenue from sports to business to our homes and with our neighbors. The unspoken line here is that as you get better, you actually help to make others better that are around you. That fact is something that goes unwritten and unsaid by the world in which we live. We are so busy trying to get better and/or win at all costs; we forget the effect we have on future generations regarding what we can teach them about competing in this life.

Compete to get better. Compete to make others better. Compete to build opportunity for all people to enjoy victory, for it is not yours alone.

My life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.


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