“At the most general level, competition and decompetition differ in relation to the basic metaphor that guides them. Competition reflects a metaphor of partnership. By this metaphor, each competitor is viewed as an enabler (in the positive sense) for the other; each requires the other to bring out the best in each. There is a synergy that results from the mutual challenge that each competitor provides to the other; this synergy enables each competitor to reach new heights of excellence and mastery that could not be achieved in isolation. Because achieving my own best performance is contingent on the availability of a worthy challenge, I hope that my competitor is performing at her or his best. Viewed in this light, competition is really a subset of cooperation.”
– David L. Shields Rethinking Competition
Reading the article this exceprt came from, and asking myself some questions brought up some interesting stuff for me. I like to compete but as I went through my “why” exercises I had to peel back a lot of layers before I came to understand what was really at the root of it. There is certainly a joy in winning but what about those situations where winning is not an option or where there is no clearly defined winner or loser? I can set a goal for myself of competing in the CF Games but at no point during my training did I ever conceive of winning the CrossFit games. I can train for that goal but I also face the reality of how far behind I am and what it will take to get there. What is winning in that situation? Consider the business setting where competitors will always exist. Is winning being the biggest and the best or is winning just staying in business and taking joy in your work? I finally got down to the root of my competitive drive and it is “my better.” Competitions are just a testing ground. I won’t say proving ground because I don’t have anything to prove. My worth does not come from my performance. My value and worth is inherent and the outcome of the competition is irrelevant beyond me delivering my best and it is only for me that it is delivered. Was I able? Did I? If the answer to both is yes then I am “winning.” The other competitors are in one sense my teammates. A teammate is one with whom I strive for constant better. Viewed in this light I can see myself as striving with other athletes instead of against them. My better and best therefore can only be achieved with the help of others, even if, we are opposing each other on game day. This trickles all the way down to the day to day stuff of XCF. I pick on Kevin a lot but here is the time to celebrate the sacrifice that he makes. Everyone knows that KD works about 3 hours a day and he could train at any time of day. He comes in early almost everyday and puts the first numbers on the board. It is almost impossible for him to end the day with the fastest time or the highest score. That is because he has created a space for others to achieve their better by chasing and surpassing his best. I found it interesting this week when he came in for an evening class for the first time ever and stomped on every score on the board. Does that mean he isn’t the best he could be coming in at 6 or 7am or is the rest of the gym better because he comes in early and sets the bar high. I think it is a little of both. There is something to be gained leading the charge as well as bringing up the rear. Thank you Kevin, Clancy, and Blaze for setting a high bar for the rest of us. Good job to everyone else for continually showing them and everyone else your better and pushing them to better bests.