The Evolution of Competition: All About the People, Less About the Individual

Competition is going through a metamorphosis. There’s a new definition under development based on how society thinks it should be handled.

Not long ago it was defined by two or more parties reaching for a similar goal, which can’t be shared. This ideology is changing from can’t be shared to can be shared. Basically, the idea is that there’s enough room in the top pot for everyone to fit.

I’m the kind of guy that thrives on competition. It’s not so much that I want to beat everyone out…it’s more so that it brings me to my best performance. If there’s a top, I naturally want to be there.

The reason this is important is because society controls the swing of ideologies and defines what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Understanding the intricacies and thought patterns of the environment allows us to operate intelligently.

Individual Competitiveness is Losing Its Acceptance: Meet Kyren
Kyren [ki-ren], My 5-year-old son recently concluded his first basketball season (I was the coach). Over my coaching tenure, I’ve noticed a trend that has gotten stronger by the year: the drive to decrease individual competitiveness in youth sports.

We’re a softer society. We don’t want to see anyone lose or be left behind. This became so noticeable this year when everyone in the league received the same trophy. No individual rewards were given (i.e. Most Valuable Player). Is this society’s way of teaching kids that there’s room for the top for everyone?
Personally I’m not a fan, because some kids work harder and deserve recognition. But, overall there are some gifts along with the curses.

This Mentality is a Gift and a Curse
The Curse
Due to Kyren’s rough and tough nature, hustling up and down the court, I had to hold him back a considerable amount along with a couple other kids. Why? Because at their age parents have an expectation that all kids should play at the same level, even though some kids have no interest in sports whatsoever. This forces the naturally talented kids to not play at their maximum ability.

I spent an entire season focusing on downplaying the kid’s skills and NOT focusing on fundamentals of basketball. Instead of coaching I was a regulator of talent. When the more talented kids got the ball, I yelled “pass!”When the not as talented kids got the ball, I yelled “shoot.”

The Gift
As a coach I had to identify each kid’s strength(s) and not focus on the talented kids only. I basically helped each kid find their niche based on what they were best and most comfortable doing. For some kids it was passing, some it was dribbling, others were shooting, and the list goes on. This helped bring smiles to kid’s faces who wanted to be home playing video games – because they felt a part of something…and that’s what it’s about. That’s a gift!

Competition is NOT always Opposition
I believe that competition is natural. It’s not by accident or coincidence that we bring out our best in situations where multiple parties work towards the same goal.

I’m a high performer. I’m not smarter or more gifted than the next person, but I do have a high threshold for the pain involved in pushing myself to bring out my best. And I have a considerably large appetite for success. In my current profession, I’m often asked to give presentations to my peers to share my tips of how I’m able to be successful in my position. This used to baffle me… Why would I want to share my insider tips–my competitive advantage to my direct competition?
Well, it turns out that my tips don’t really shift anyone into a higher performance ranking. However, the friendly competition amongst us strengthens, leading us all to produce better. I work harder because I don’t want to lose my momentum and land in the bucket of mediocrity. And others work harder because they want to show that my tips aren’t “all that”. It’s a win/win situation; everyone steps up, produces more and with higher quality. But EVERYONE (for the most part) stays in their same performance tier.

The Reality: There’s Room, but Not everyone is Willing or Wants to be at the Top
The reality has shown that even though there is plenty of room at the top not everyone is willing to go there.
Online we see business after business conversing about their “competitive advantage” and “insider tips”. This proves that the layout is changing significantly. Sharing this type of information, dispersed for millions to see would be defined as huge “no-no’s” 10 years ago. But today is the era of transparency in business practices; giving light to both customers and competitors. Businesses form joint ventures to help each other make it to the top. Joint ventures are gassed by competition because neither side wants to be the under performer. It’s a win/win situation.

The reality is that everyone can, but won’t make it to the top. Not everyone has the chops to endure the amount of hard work and dedication to reach the elite destination. But what the current landscape is showing is that there is room, so people more than ever are working closer together, opening their windows and doors and elevating the stakes. It’s a win/win situation.

I think competition is healthy. Helps the economy thrive and be at its best. Our current competitive environment is perfect to help everyone step up who is willing. It brings out the best in us and raises the overall stakes. We’re now in a team-oriented culture, so we have to look out for the other players.