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Day 173: Liberating Competition

“The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.” -Jack Welch

My son hit three consecutive 3 point shots tonight. He rarely shoots like that when he is involved with intense competition. Today was another game in a summer league, where he has been meeting some of his old teammates/friends from past teams and his game gets loose and fluid as his friendships reignite on the court. There is little that gives me as much pleasure as watching my children in the heart of their friendships. The reunion, the play between them, the memory of games fought side by side all work to transform the fact that they are currently opponents. The game was all about the playing, Even people who didn’t know their friendship watched as it transformed the game for everyone.

I have been finding myself lately worried about the competition in my own game of business. Studying the other companies’ marketing and sales strategies, ingredient base and claims, is a good way to learn how to position yourself in the market. It is also a slippery slope that can degenerate into losing sight of who you are and what you are trying to accomplish. The same is true in my writing work. Comparing myself to all the new faces coming onto the social communities and blogs that I have held as my own territory in healthy intimacy, both motivates me and unnerves me. Instead of reading their work to learn, I look for the flaw.

This is the dark side of competition. The under belly of being motivated to strive and achieve is also the secret, mostly unstated desire that others should fail. I see it happen when I watch a tight basketball game and I wish for some kid I don’t even know to miss a free throw. In the sales game of life, it is common to want to take your competition down a notch. Survival of the fittest and all that drives us towards conquest.

Yet just tonight I was sharing with my daughter’s boyfriend as he is getting ready for the second round of his golf tournament, that the truth about success and failure has nothing to do with the field of other players. It has everything to do with our relationship to our own capacity to succeed, to be seen, to acknowledge our own greatness. This is admittedly new territory for me, and one that I remain vigilant to watching. I am still reconnecting with younger versions of myself that learned to not trust goodness and success, especially in myself.

Being ready to have the life you imagined is the only real competition we face. The truth is that the other writers who are contributing to the field of sexual wellness are comrades and, inadvertently we strengthen each other’s work. There is nothing that other people, competitors included, can take away from us, that we don’t give up in ourselves first. Conversely, the most golden moments of our game come from the connection we make to the other players. It is the connection that unleashes the flow of genius, from a string of 3 pointers to an under par game, to a collection of words on a page that give a positive life meaning.