Spirit of Competition
Will the spirit of competition really help us when restarting, regrouping or reinventing? In this article we will be using both the athletic and music fields to help us answer that question. The definition of competition is a contest, rivalry with two or more parties. It’s the process of finding out the best in an area. But does applying the spirit of competition help you become the best and also, how healthy is that drive to win when we also want to help each other?
To compete at any level requires goals, both short-term goals and long-term goals. These should be measurable with a timeline and specific steps for achievement and progress. (FREE goal setting sheets here) The spirit of competition provides a goal to work toward. In athletics, the first Olympic games were held at Olympia in the Greek city-state of Elis in 776 BC, but it’s generally accepted that Olympics were at least 500 years old at that time. This is to say that competition has been around for a long time.
Competition even goes way back to the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Eve took a bite of an apple because she wanted to be wise like God, eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Of course, that particular act had dire consequences! In this article, we will be focusing on three areas in developing a spirit of competition. One: Evaluate where you are; Two: Study strategy that can help you move forward; and Three: Train Specifically.
Principle One: Evaluate Where You Are
In baseball, a pitcher evaluates what he can do well, better or more unique than everyone else. Usually a pitcher becomes known for a certain type of pitch or pitches, then builds on it. You can’t control the other players in the game, but you can control your own game and what methods you use to win.
In music, the same principle applies. I always thought it would be fun to have one of those low, smoky romantic voices. But alas, my range is higher and will never sound smoky, no matter how hard I try. However, I found I could hit notes much higher than many singers, thus performing selections from Phantom of the Opera that wow audiences and created a market for my shows. In piano, my ability to play by ear, enhancing even classical competitions, gave me a uniqueness, setting me apart from many other players to keep me working in a very competitive field.
Evaluating where you are applies in most every field in the marketplace. Find your uniqueness and accept who and what you are. With that acceptance comes confidence and the ability to build on your strengths, especially as you study strategy and train specifically.
Principle Two: Study Strategy
Strategy is very important in baseball. I really didn’t realize this until years into my marriage to Greg, who played professionally. I didn’t understand how and why he would evaluate what pitches were going particularly well for each individual game. Even though he was known for his fastball, his individual split-second decisions on where he placed the ball would vary with every batter’s mannerisms and habits. Since baseball is such a physical sport, I think most can understand that there were nights when he felt he could physically deliver his top pitches over and over, and other nights where he would conserve precious energy, still winning the game. That came down to him implementing self-strategy.
Most music competition is an individual event, as it’s a process of competing against yourself as well as the market. Evaluating the types of shows that are selling and the strength of the performers is the way I studied strategy. I quickly found it is not always the most talented performers that get booked. Some of the acts that came through the showcase rooms I produced across the country (for over 4 years!) were not on top of the talent pole. But they got booked because they had a niche and a strategy and knew what the market demanded. Studying strategy should be a constant in most every business.
Principle Three: Train Specifically
This principle says train specifically, not just train and it applies to most every field. If you need validation on the importance of training specifically, read So Good They Can’t Ignore You about the craftsman mindset. It’s excellent and I re-read it most every year.
First, to train specifically, ignite the spirit of competition in yourself. Set personal goals that are specific and measurable. Sports creates a very visual application as the repetition of a certain drill, such as shooting baskets when performed with focused concentration, should increase success in a basketball game. The additional benefit of having a trainer to insist on correct form in repetitions and additional drills will move you forward much quicker.
In my many years of music instruction, I had instructors that would help me to train specifically. In piano, exact repetition of scales, arpeggios, chords, cadences, then specific repertoire helped push me to a level where I could continue competing at a very high level. The solid technique I gained has carried me throughout my career, though I come back to those repetitions from time to time. I have done the same in the area of vocal training, applying correct breathing techniques and placement of tone.
No Unrealistic Expectations
The spirit of competition is healthy when applied to our lives and businesses. We don’t need to be overrun with unrealistic expectations.
Take the time to evaluate exactly where you are right now and keep it simple. If your business needs to pivot or change, then accept that reality, also validating your skills. Then study strategy. What is the market saying, what are those that are in your field doing that you can learn from? How can you compete? Then start training specifically. Spend the time and money it takes to do it now as there has never been a better time. Get a good guide and solicit constant feedback from a trusted source. Then compete well and enjoy the journey!