The Joy Of Competition

I want to talk a little bit about competition. Why I do it and why I think everyone should consider giving it a serious try.

I’ve been competitive at something since I was 14. In high school it was dance, as part of a team and a soloist. In college and grad school, it was judo. Now it’s in Olympic weightlifting.

Everyone in the course of their life, work, and training goes through ebbs and flows in regards to their motivation, but I have found that nothing inspires me to persevere through a rough patch than knowing I’m in preparation for a competition. When I’d walk into a studio, dojo, or gym and think “everything hurts, why don’t I take today off,” I remember that my competition is toiling away just as hard, if not harder.

It also bleeds over into your ability to control your diet. When you are putting it all out there every day in every session, it doesn’t make sense to blow it by eating junk. And face it; a clean diet is the foundation of a healthy body. When in the midsts of preparing for a competition, it's much easier to avoid the donuts in the company kitchen, or pass on the beer out at the pub.

But more profoundly, I've found that the act of stepping out on that stage, mat, or platform, in front of judges or referees, and really showing people what you're capable of, really laying it all out there, makes everything else in life less... scary. Public speaking isn't the terror it once was, after stepping into situations where any opponent wants to take you out. Interviews pale in comparison to baring your soul to through a dance choreographed from the heart. When you're in situations where there are going to be people rooting against you (face it, as supportive as a group is, someone is going to want you to fail for their own gain), other areas of life just don't seem to affect you as adversely as they might otherwise.

So I'd like to encourage everyone to try at least one sanctioned competition. You might surprise yourself and if nothing else, make other challenges seem a little easier.