As the start of the Crossfit Games appears on the horizon I am thinking about competition and what it means to me. Like it or not we all compete all the time. We compete for the jobs we hold, for the parking space we search for, for the best seat in the restaurant. But we also compete for the affection of others, for the attention we desire, for the respect we deserve. Competition is a normal activity. So I think it is a good thing to hone those skills with physical competition but truly it becomes apparent that the measure of your character is not the competition but how you compete.
As children we are taught to respect the other team but as we get older that respect is often turned into aggressive dismissal, you don’t want to see them as someone else out trying to achieve the same thing as you but instead you become focused on beating them. When you put their defeat at the top of the priority list you create a shallow victory for yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I like to win. I like to out perform my competitor and I celebrate that performance in myself. The difference is I view my fellow athlete as someone who is going to help bring out the best not the worst in me. Their competition is going to help me push myself harder and in the end let the best athlete win. I will proudly cheer anyone who bests my efforts with their own because I know that if I put all that I had into my work then I can hold my head up just as high.
Stepping into any kind of competitive arena is nerve-wracking. Whether it is a chess championship or a boxing ring, you are taking yourself out of your comfort zone with the purpose of seeing how well you can do. In the years when I competed in Taekwondo tournaments I hated the waiting to get into the sparring ring. I wanted to feel the impact of my opponents attempt to score a point on me because then everything focused down into that single moment and may the best man win. It is a good thing to stand up to those butterflies in your stomach and instead of having them take control, you force them to fly in formation. You accept your nervousness but carry on.
In Crossfit we compete with ourselves all the time. We record the amount of weight we lift, how long it took us to complete a set of exercises and through all that we receive the support of the other athletes in the gym who are doing exactly the same thing. It doesn’t matter that I can lift more than someone else because there is always going to be someone who can do even more. What matters is that I do the best I can and then I turn around and encourage others to strive for their best. I love to workout with people who are better athletes than me, fortunately for me at our gym I’m practically surrounded by people like that. From the petite Lindsey who runs past like I’m going backwards to her muscular husband who gets better every workout while I feel my progress move at a snails pace.
What comes next is the willingness to compete; there is no failure, just failure to try. Signing up to compete in the Crossfit Open Games is a very simple means to measure yourself against your peer group. There is nothing to lose but there is a huge opportunity to win confidence in yourself. In the end you are competing against a scoreboard and when you complete your exercise you can look at your score and know that you did your best. And that is all you need to know.