I have a confession to make. I like to win. A lot. And, while my competitive sporting career has more or less ended, my desire to be number one has managed to stick with me. It also has a tendency to rear its ugly head in the most unusual of circumstances, much to the chagrin of my family, friends, and co-workers. But hey – I like to win. Here’s an ode to the beauty of a truly relentless competitive mind.
If we don’t keep score, how will we know who is having fun?
It’s Sunday afternoon, and there are four of us shooting some hoops. Suddenly, someone has a novel idea: why not play two-on-two? The suggestion receives unanimous approval. We pick teams, and I take it upon myself to iron out the details by asking “so twos are twos, threes are threes?” That’s when my ‘friend’ derails everything by saying “oh we don’t need to keep score do we?” Records scratch, brakes squeal, crickets cricket, and I must resist the urge to say “yeah, and we don’t need to be friends do we?” Apparently, she hasn’t realized that no score means no winner, and no winner means no one has fun.
How can I win this family dinner conversation?
Our mother has already left the table. She claims she’s gone to start the kettle for tea, but in reality she just can’t take the heat of another argument. As we watch her walk away with resignation, I turn back to my full-time sister (and part-time adversary). “I used to think your perspective on today’s most topical socio-political issue had merit, but I have since enlightened myself via personal anecdotal experiences and a speedy search through ‘Google.’ And now that I have the proof I think it’s best to tell you that you’re dead wrong.” Family dinner conversation won.
I play for one reason. And it’s not for the exercise.
I walk off the field in silence, my spirit crushed. Another loss, making it the fifth in a row. Standings aside, my team stinks. As I untie my cleats in agony, my good friend and teammate utters the 7 words that should never be uttered in this situation. “I think we played really well tonight.” Well. That’s the word she used. WE LOST! I wanted to shout. My friend saw my face and quickly changed her tune, suggesting we go for a beer and forget all about it. At least there’s one thing we can win at.
Driving is a competitive sport.
I’ve been preparing for this moment my whole life. There are two lanes, and the light is red. Lane One has a long line of traffic but freedom ahead of it. Lane Two has no traffic, but parked cars are blocking the route on the other side of the intersection. Split second decision, I’m going for it. I glide to the right, coast past the suckers wallowing in their passive-aggressive SUVs , and time it just right. The light turns green, and I flip back into the left lane leaving everyone else in my dust. Don’t they know driving is a competitive sport that I just won?
If my team wins but I didn’t score, did I really win?
Post-game beers just don’t feel right. You’d think a 6-1 win over our arch-rivals would have everyone feeling great. Everyone, that is, except me. I think it was somewhere around the 54th minute mark when I started to become painfully self-aware. We’re knocking the ball around like pros, and our opponents are despondent. But there’s one thing missing; everyone’s scored except me. I’ve got a couple assists, made good runs, and I even won a penalty in the first half. Still, every shot I took was off the post, I ended up offside, or some other act of God intervened to keep me off the score sheet. So with our collective joy at winning, why do I feel like I just lost?
There you have it. An overly competitive mind is a beautiful thing. As Confucius would say, ““The will to win will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
Don’t mind me, I’m just striving for personal excellence.
~Written by Fiona Geddes