The recently completed London 2012 Olympics games has been hailed as a resounding success by many , even cynical Londoners like me! For me, the most important legacy that the games has left us British is the fact that competition is healthy, that winning is sexy and that the mind-set to compete and win needs to be encouraged, developed, nurtured and celebrated.
Other nations know this of course and in days gone by, the British also knew it which accounts for how such a small island managed to become a world leader in many of the areas and genres so fabulously depicted by the breath-taking opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic games. However, it would seem that over the recent years, there has been a systematic erosion of “ the winning habit” from the British consciousness. I don’t know exactly how this started but it spread to such harmless but character building activities as the Primary School Sports days where the kids are encouraged not to be competitive as it is “the taking part that counts”. It carries on to the Secondary schools where the concept of winners are deleted from the school concerts and Talent shows because it is “the taking part that counts” and progressed to various political and sociological debates over whether school exams (such as the SATS) should be eliminated because itcaused undue stress to school kids!!!
Imagine the shock that young people get when they get into the big wide world and realise that adult life is one giant competitive playground, that no one wants to employ or engage with mediocrity and that to get ahead in anything, you need to “compete” (yes, that swear word!) with a whole host of other people. To raise the bar even higher (no pun intended with the Olympic high jump completion!), the worldwide globalisation, just like the
Olympic games, has extended the scope and boundaries of people allowed to
compete in the same game, so that in adulthood, you find yourself competing with not just your home buddies, who have grown up with the same “anti- competition” doctrine as you…but also with people from other nations who have grown up with the opposite mentality.
To be able to succeed in adult life, in anything, we need to train, develop and bring our “A game” every time.
Britain came a very impressive 3rd on the Olympics 2012 medal table – second only to the significantly more populated USA and China. The men and women who won the fiercely competitive gold, silver and bronze medals to get Britain to this enviable position, did not do this by shying away from competitions or the hard work and preparations that get you
competition ready. This is because, no winning opportunity has yet been
invented which does not involve competition of sorts.
Indeed sometime, the toughest completion of all is the one that you need to embark on with yourself!
Therefore it stands to reason that that we need to get better at creating opportunities for competing and actual enjoy competing if we are ever going to stand a chance of developing a lasting “Winning habit”. The competition needn’t be serious. It just needs to be there.
At a recent 18th birthday barbeque, the teenagers present (all high achieving undergraduates and “A level” students) created a fun dance competition. The prize or gold medal was a mere £20 however, the attitude, enthusiasm, mind-set and enjoyment was simply priceless!
Enjoy and see if you can guess who won!
Winning doesn’t build character, character comes from perseverance. Those who eventually win, do so because they have worked hard for it and known failure. It isn’t about winning but it is about competing. It is very linear to think that competition must involve a winner and a loser, because the greatest competition of all does not involve either, when one competes against one’s self there is no winner and no loser, there is only you and the strength you have gained from the experience.
So yes competition is healthy, yes a mind-set to win is healthy but it is not about winning it is about competing. The only competition worth participating is one with yourself because at the end of it all, it has to matter to you.