A little bit of friendly competition can be the fuel you need!

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to participate in any extracurricular activities like so many of my classmates. I remember being asked if I wanted to be part of the Student Council and my mom said no, because it was a form of government and the bible says that man should not judge their fellow man. As much as I often longed to be part of something like the Yearbook Club, Softball, Basketball, Football, Track or other sports team, Band, or the Cheerleading Squad, I knew the answer would be the same, “NO!”. (My parents didn’t approve of me forming friendships with people outside of the church. And they expected me to spend my free time helping with household chores, yard work or devotion to “Jehovah” – reading the Bible, sitting in church for hours at a time or going from door-to-door spreading the “truth”.) I got good grades, but was never at the top of my class.

As a result, I never developed any athletic skills or knowledge about sports.
If you were to ask my parents, they would say that they tried to get me interested in sports, but I didn’t show any interest. Their idea of exposing me to sports was standing in the front or back yard, having my father throw a ball at me and tell me to put my hands up and catch. This method, resulted in my injury and fear of participating in any sports.

My father wasn’t one of those Dads who sat around with all of his buddies, drinking beer, eating snacks and BBQ-ing and watching the game.
He wasn’t one of those men who looked forward to football or baseball season or pledged his loyalty to a particular team.
I remember him and my mother bad mouthing other men in the congregation who were football fanatics.
He wasn’t one of those Dads who was a die hard hunter or fisherman.
Looking back, he really didn’t have any hobbies or that he regularly enjoyed.
Interests, yes. But nothing that he was absolutely passionate about.

I don’t believe he was always the boring person depicted above. From stories of his life before becoming a father, he had traveled and spent weeks in Europe, even spent weeks in Mexico surfing and being a beach bum. He even went skydiving. He had his pilots license and spent lots of time flying in the plane my grandfather owned. He owned a motorcycle and loved to ride. He loved classic cars and even owned a ’71 Corvette that he had until I was 5. Him and my mother used to camp often, spend time on lakes jet skiing. He owned and operated two successful businesses when I was born. I am not sure what happened to him. The only dream my mother had was to simply be a wife and mother. (and to be a better at it than her own mother.) After over a decade of struggling with infertility, they finally became parents, when they adopted me at 9 1/2 months from Seoul, South Korea. From the time I officially became their child until I was almost 5, I think all of my fathers hobbies, interests, and toys were stripped away from him. Everything was sold. The house in the Sacramento area, his motorcycle, his ‘Vette and even is 2 businesses. We moved to the tourist town that they had always loved to camp at, Fort Bragg, CA. My Dad went to work for someone else, which within 5 years resulted in his being terminated and then him having to find a new career in his early 40’s. Somewhere along the way, I believe he felt like his dignity, dreams and pride were completely stripped from him.

I don’t remember having a happy father. He was always harsh, negative, condescending and unhappy. He was bitter and unhappy. I’ve often wondered if he was bi-polar. I have very few good memories that involve him. He always expected a lot out of me and in the end, it never seemed to be good enough.

I think of all the people I’ve encountered in my lifetime. Some have a story of how they discovered a talent they possess that is rare. Some have a story of how years of participating in a certain sport helped them develop extraordinary skills. Some have stories of injuries they sustained playing sports or performing some dare devil act to show off in front of their siblings, cousins, neighbors or friends from schools. Some have pictures to go with stories of trips they traveled to for tournaments or class trips. Some have pictures of them at a High School Football game, school dance, band concert, on a hunting trip with their first kill with their father, or them with their calf at the 4-H sale. Some have a box full of trophies or awards up in their parents attic that symbolize something they excelled at as a child. I have none. As an adult, I realize that NONE of that really matters.

But because I was not exposed to what most kids were, I never was able to find anything that I felt passionate about. I never found something I could OWN as my own trademark. I left home at 15 and I worked and partied on my down-time. I had my first child at 18. I grew up to be an adult – a boring adult. I didn’t have anything hobbies, cool stories from my childhood, or anything I was proud of ….. Not even 1 cool story of anything exceptional.

My parents taught me that being competitive was not a desirable or acceptable trait. I do feel that being competitive CAN get out of hand. I’ve seen people who will resort to unethical and dishonest behavior or acts in order to be #1 or get to the top. I’ve seen people who will hurt others in order to get to the top. I’ve seen people who are ugly, unkind and unable to be happy for others who have excelled. I’ve seen people who are so focused on winning in one area that they neglect things that are of more importance.
That is the WORST CASE scenario.

My husband is EXTREMELY competitive. At times I think that it is a little over the top. But I can see now, that wanting to be the best gives you something to strive for and pushes you to do your best.

I used to always say that I was not competitive. Well of course not! What did I have to compete for – Being the best average person? I certainly won! My mom used to tell me, “Just do your best Min.” That’s great. I learned how to do just enough to get by and be a little better than average. No one ever expected anything GRAND out of me. I lived such a sheltered, predictable, boring life, from the time I was a child, that there was nothing I could do that set me apart from others. I was simply to do as I was told and not F**K up. The problem was that I didn’t want to be who I was expected or told to be. But I  was never given much space to allow me to figure out who I really was.

By the time I left home at 15, and had the freedom to try to find and create myself, I felt like I had to catch up to everyone else my age who had been given the freedom and independence to be themselves. Naturally I made lots of bad decisions, which resulted in being told I was a disappointment to my parents. I felt like a failure. No one told me that it was okay to make mistakes. No one told me that this was part of life. No one told me that you didn’t’ have to get it right in the first shot. No one told me that there wasn’t a certain age that you had to have figured out what your “gift” or “purpose” was. No one told me that things would get better. No one told me that it was never too late to “become someone”. and that I could be someone. No one ever told me that my gift didn’t have to be something that was easily identifiable or something that would earn you a trophy or award.

I guess because my Dad’s dreams were crushed once I came along, he never taught me to dream. I guess because my Mom’s only dream was to be a wife & mom, that was all she ever taught me – was how to excel at both of those duties. Because they didn’t think the world would keep going on because their religious beliefs actually had them believe this world would be destroyed before I was an adult, they never saw the need to dream big.

I never believed what they shoved down my throat or tried to pound into my head. All of their life and choices were based around their religion. For me, it is NOT. I was never was taught how to set goals that were not based on religious views or events.

Luckily, I found someone who believed in me and gave me goals to work towards, my coach Becky. Becoming a Coach and part of Team Beachbody, helped me become confident. As I crushed each goal, I felt like less of a failure. I realized that I did have a competitive side, a healthy competitive spirit, not one that makes me crazy and out of control. To wake up today and see that I ended the year, crushing THREE of my major goals: firing my boss, so I could work from home and set my own hours which allows me to be with my family more, achieving my 5 Star Diamond Goal and becoming a 2013 Elite Coach and to top it off, being ranked at 51 out of the 139,972 coaches in the organization … well, the way it makes me feel is just indescribable. I don’t even know who is ranked at 50 or 52, nor do I care, because I wasn’t trying to beat anyone. I was only competing with myself. I know that I did what I was taught by my mother, “Do my best!” and that really is all that matters, but for the first time in my life I am in the top 100 of something, something that really makes a difference. Coming from someone who has never been good at anything, to me this is a major milestone in my life.

When it comes down to it though, I am  just truly thankful that I was given the opportunity to be part of an organization that gives you goals to reach for, recognition to encourage, motivate and push you to do better, has helped me find the competitive side of myelf, prove that I am not a failure, find my gift and purpose in life, somewhere I feel that I belong, a way to sharpen my skills and develop new ones and has helped fill the void in my life and justify my own existence in life!

I want to close by sharing a post from Cliff Wilson’s blog, that I came across – Competition is a good thing, if used to properly as fuel to be better than you were yesterday and crush your goals:

“Competition is such an important part of my life. Being a bodybuilder and coach, my entire life revolves around competition, winning and losing. For any athlete, wins and losses are evident as they are tallied and put on display for all to see. What many people fail to see is that wins and losses permeate through everything in society, from finding a mate to our careers.
I apologize as this is not my usual bodybuilding article, this is an article about life and society as I see it. I am sure this article will offend some people and I am sure there are some things I will say that will seem harsh, but this is something I think about often. Our society, and therefore those in it, has become as soft as kittens covered in marshmallow Fluff, piled on top of a Tempur-Pedic mattress. The idea of having winners and losers has apparently become offensive, and competitive endeavors have been removed because heaven forbid someone gets their feelings hurt by losing.
I am 29 years old and I think that my age group was one of the first to see the removal of competition. We were told winning was not important, you just needed to try, and often we were taught that if we didn’t want to try that was okay too. We didn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do, we were still special.
Well, I am here to give you the harsh truth that winning DOES matter, learning to compete IS important, and you are not special until you do something that makes you special.

My Experience

Forgive me as I take a little trip down memory lane. In 5th grade I joined my school basketball team. I thought I was going to be a GREAT basketball player, and despite being chubby and slow I still thought I would be great. I was 11 years old when I walked into my first practice and I will never forget my first experience with my coaches. They looked at us 11 year old kids and said,
“I hope you guys are ready to work! This is going to be the toughest thing you have ever done in your lives. We are here to teach you guys how to win and be winners. We are going to be your coaches for the next 4 years and we will be contending for a championship every single one of those years because we will work harder than any other team your age. Teams are going to be afraid to play us. We will also have fun in the process. Do you know why? Because winning is fun!”
They hadn’t even seen any of us play yet and they were confident that they would have us at a competitive level. Even at 11 years old I remember wondering how they could promise such a thing before seeing us play.
Our practices were BRUTAL! Nowadays I am not even sure they would be allowed to run practices like this for 5th graders. We would run until we threw up and do drills that would have me coming home bruised and bleeding constantly.
Our first game came and we lost. Not only did we lose but we were not good. I was terrible and didn’t score a single point. I got in the car with my mom and I cried…a lot. I was not the great player I thought I was going to be.  My dreams were crushed.
At our next practice my coach could tell I was still upset as I was just coasting through the motions. He pulled me aside to talk to me. I expected he was going to tell me everything was alright and that I didn’t play that badly the day before. I could not be more wrong. My coach looked at me and said, “What in the hell is wrong with you? Stop feeling sorry for yourself and pull your head out of your ass! “He then said, “I know you want to be a good player, but this comes with preparation, practice, and hard work. Nobody is going to just hand it to you. So once again, pull your head out of your ass and GET TO WORK!” It was immediately clear to me that whining and pouting would not be tolerated. It was time for me to man up!
The season progressed and we got better. I worked hard on my own as well as at practice. As promised, our team went to the championship that year. We lost by two points. The next year in 6th grade we won the whole thing. The year after that in 7th grade we won again. In 8th grade we made it to the championship again but narrowly lost. As promised, we contended for the title every single year.
From 5th through 8th grade I worked harder at basketball than most adults do at their jobs. We ran until we threw up, we ran through drills that always left people bloody. We were pushed to the limit each and every practice. I remember having practices on holidays too. To some this may seem extreme for a kid’s game, but at the ripe old age of 15 I entered high school with a pretty clear idea of what it takes to become a winner. Some people never get this type of education in their whole lives. This was invaluable to my development as a growing and maturing person.

Tough Love

Why did I tell this story? My coaches from 5th through 8th grade did me a huge favor; they told me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear. I am thankful for that every single day. Without intending to be boastful, I have been pretty successful in most everything I have put my mind to since I was in 5th grade. Is it because I was born with natural gifts both intellectually and athletically? Absolutely not! It is because I learned several things inherent truths that all young people need to be taught:
Winning DOES Matter   
This is a statement that has almost become so frowned upon that you never hear it uttered anymore. I have news for you. Success in life comes from winning various competitions. The life you want will have to be won. If there is a girl you love, then you must be prepared to win her heart before someone else does. If you want that job then I am sure someone else does too. You are now competing for it. Do you have what it takes to win it?
In today’s society we are expected to award the effort, not the result. Don’t get me wrong, effort in any endeavor is extremely important, but so is the outcome of that effort. If the result means nothing, then what is the point of putting forth effort?
You do not fall into the life you want, you compete for it every day you are on this earth. If you have no aspirations in life then winning does not matter, but in that case you have no right to complain when your life is crap.
You have to earn it
Entitlement is an all too prevalent these days. You are entitled to nothing you have not earned. If you want something then you have to get up off your ass and go for it. Before you can even think about winning or having success you have to get off the couch and actually work for it. Otherwise you have lost before you even begin. The best way to earn something is to work, work hard, and then work some more, even if you don’t see immediate benefits. Sometimes it is really that simple.
Life is not fair, deal with it
Some people are born with natural ability, some are not. Some people are born with money, some are not. For example, I love bodybuilding but the truth is that there are individuals in this sport that have FAR more genetic ability than me. On my very best day of my entire career I would not be able to beat them on the very worst day of theirs, no matter how hard I work. Does that mean I should just quit now? Of course not! If you feel that way then you are telling me that there is no point in doing anything unless you can be the best in the entire world. I’ve got news for you, chances are that in everything you do in this life, you will not be the best in the world. Deal with it!

Losing is okay

This is something I see with younger people more and more often, the inability to handle loss. Everyone is going to lose at some point or another. The important thing is how you react to it. Are you going to learn from it, use it to your advantage in the future and use it as motivation? Or are you going to fall into a depression and quit trying? The former will take you a lot further than the latter. For those that fall into a depression over every little failure, just know that you may feel sorry for yourself, but nobody else feels sorry for you. People don’t want to be around the negative person that is constantly crying, “Poor me!”.

We Created This Monster So Don’t Complain

There is a common theme as of late for older individuals in society to talk badly about people in their teens and 20’s.  They will say that they are lazy, entitled, narcissistic, and too sensitive. I am not here to argue with any of that. However, before you start hurling insults at the younger generations I suggest we look at who raised them this way. What did we think was going to happen when we tell everyone they are special from the moment they are born? We have given kids trophies even when they place last. Yet, we are shocked and almost insulted when they grow up thinking things will keep being handed to them. That is just insane! We conditioned them to think this way.

The Return of Competition

If you want your kids to have a better life than yourself then it is time to start emphasizing competition. People need to learn that in life there are winners and there are losers and your actions will directly affect which group you end up in. The sooner everyone learns this, the better. If doesn’t matter if you compete in bodybuilding like myself, baseball, football, or spelling bees. Learning to win and handle loss are not skills that exist in a vacuum, they are applicable to every single aspect of life. These are valuable skills that are being lost to societal trends, but we need them now more than ever.
Hopefully if you are a young adult and have never been taught these lessons that this article will help prepare you for life that is ahead. If you are a parent, teach your kids how to compete, how to win, and how to lose. They will thank you when they are older for telling them what they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear.”