Spirit of Competition

Recently at my workplace we had an inaugural competition among the various operational squadrons as a way to test our proficiency. Being the maintenance team, my colleagues and I were split to join the operational squadrons which we work for. At the beginning, it feels as though the competition was a distraction from the work that we have to do. We are already so busy, yet there is a competition to distract us. As per usual, once we reserve our judgement, we actually found out that it was better than expected.

Mid-way into the competition, the camaraderie built up between my maintenance team and the operational squadron. We worked together for a common goal and accepted responsibility for the outcome of the tests that we had to undertake. It was fun to see everyone work hard together and the joy we had when we learnt that we were consistently ranked second and hence was in the running for the champions.

At the same time, I was delighted to see that my team felt disappointed in losing certain categories of the competition which we were responsible for (we got 2nd). I saw the personal pride in my team and every member actually owns the competition instead of labeling it as someone else’s responsibility to win it. This ownership is commendable and wouldn’t be brought out under normal circumstance. In the spirit of competition lies the desire to improve and excel. This is what will make future competitions even more exciting and bring up our capabilities.

In the end we got 2nd. All of us were disappointed I guess, especially when we heard we lost by a narrow margin. However, there was no finger pointing. Everyone was in the team and as a team. Instead, each party took it upon themselves that they could have done better and thus win the championship. I feel extremely proud to be in this team where everyone is responsible and have a good fighting spirit.

On the other hand, there were comments (disclaimer: hearsay) from other units that the competition mechanism was “kelong” and that since they are organising it next year, they will structure it to win it. I put a disclaimer because I did not hear it myself, but I chose to talk about this as I wanted to talk about the words as a whole and not put blame on any party. In any competition, there will definitely be teams who lose. However, what matters is to lose graciously. Somehow, at every competition, there will be sore losers who blame others instead of themselves. They are living in denial. For starters, competition rules have been set and agreed upon by all parties, so we should respect that.

People who live by blaming themselves before others will tend to find success. This is because they recognise their fault in any matter and hence will take active steps to change themselves for the better. People who blame the system will continue their path as they do not see where they have gone wrong. It is the system’s fault and not their own, hence there is no requirement to change what they have been doing.

This is termed as living “at effect” as opposed to living “at cause” which refers to accepting responsibility for our results. This is one of the things I have learnt from an NLP book that I was reading for my April book.

Are you living “at effect” or “at cause”?

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