Door Number Fifteen: A Healthy Sense of Competition

“Live daringly, boldly, fearlessly. Taste the relish to be found in competition – in having put forth the best within you.” ~Henry J. Kaiser

Competition permeates all levels of our society. From the day we are born we are put in situations that put us in direct opposition to others. When we’re young we battle for the best toy. As we go through the rigors of the education system we strive to get the best grades to get us into the best schools. The job hunt puts us in direct conflict with others who we must beat out for the job. We even spend our free time and money engaged in activities centered around the clash of opposing forces. While there are plenty of dangers inherent with being overly competitive (just talk to any Minnesota Vikings fan), there are a number of reasons maintaining a health dose of competitive fervor in one’s life is a door that should be opened.

Competition is a motivating force. While in a perfect world we would all be inspired to do great things simply based on our ideals and values, sometimes we need a little push. Knowing there is someone else trying to do what we are doing either before or better than we do it creates a sense of urgency that pushes us to work harder and faster than we might otherwise. Take out the contest, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is just about an aimless teen who dates a couple of girls and then goes back to being directionless. In fact, take out the sense of battle and most heroes (both fictional and real) would probably have settled for the safer path of mediocrity.

Competition teaches us how to work with a diverse amount of people: especially those we disagree with. The thing about opposing others is it puts us in situations where we are forced to deal with people we want to fail and often don’t agree with. The key to these situations is learning how to remain on positive terms with these individuals when the area of conflict is over. By learning to leave our feelings of rivalry in whatever arena it resides we are able to work with people we may otherwise have conflict with. Giving us the edge needed to survive in an increasingly dog-eat-dog world.

Competition teaches us how to deal with disappointment. Ideally, we would emerge victorious from every challenge that comes our way. Unfortunately, a great deal of the time we instead suffer at the hands of defeat. However, just like Luke Skywalker at the end of Empire Strikes Back, only by tasting the bitter medicine of a crushing loss do we learn how to cope with the inevitability of disappointment. Which is why we must seek out competition from time-to-time. By learning this coping mechanism we are able to bounce back and return to the game when it really matters.

Opening the door of competition is an important stop on our journey to finding our 50 doors because it serves as a motivating force, teaches us how to work with those we disagree with, and gives us the coping mechanisms necessary to deal with the disappointment found in life. While becoming obsessed with winning is not a good idea, its important to have the drive to succeed. We must go into every situation with the desire to come out on top. That way, even if we come up short there will be no doubt we gave it everything we had.

 

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