The best athletes compete: every repetition, every point, every minute, every practice, every possession, every set, every game, meet, match, etc. Within a finite mindset, competing means to beat the person next to you or beat your best time or beat your 1 rep max. In a sense, that is what it means to compete; however, If we ask ourselves what does it mean to compete beyond sport, what then, does competing look like? In a finite game, it can mean having a higher income than your neighbor, having more successful kids than your neighbor, or getting hired for the job. When we measure ourselves against outcomes, we are engaging in a finite game. In some cases a finite game is a necessary part of the process but it should not be our primary motive. Okay, you won a National Championship, then what? You finally get paid more than your neighbor, then what?
What if we change our focus and we engage in an infinite game?
In the infinite game, living life as a competitor means upholding our standards. It remains true that the best athletes, friends, coaches, coworkers, and creators compete, but we are playing a different game. Rather than asking ourselves if we beat the person next to us or the person in the mirror, we ask ourselves: did I perform that act with excellence? Did that repetition get me closer to where I want to be? Was I living within my values at practice today? Did I show up at work focusing on maintaining my standards today? Was that hour of time purposeful? Did intention play a role in my relationship today? If today was my last chance to “compete”, did I give it everything I have?
Change the definition of competition from an outcome focus to a process focus.
Identify your standards.
Then, ask yourself, did I compete today?
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