August 1, 2019

37. Competition Lights Your Fire

The second Greg introduced this topic – talking about competition – his chest went out and Grego fixed Pricey with a steely smile that said, “You’re stuffed, Pricey!” And Pricey did not argue!

Competition has got bad press.

Competition lights your fire! But sadly in this day and age, competition in so many ways has become a bit of a dirty word. So many want to take competition out of schools, and when you look at what’s going on in things like political battles – competition has lost some of its greatness, lost its soul! But the fact is, the world is a very, very competitive place.

Competition at its best, is great. Even when you look at the world of politics – we seen to have lost the statesman; the one who could inspire us. The statesman’s a person who can compete, but they become their best self and they lead us to become our best selves – that is what competition at its best does.

How you play the game

There is that old saying “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game”. Competition is so important. It is great on so many levels. It gives you that energy in life because there’s something coming up. And it doesn’t matter if you’re playing footy for a local club or you’re in a competition of the bands or, you even go on your monthly quiz with your mates or whatever – it doesn’t really matter.

In about a month’s time Greg has got a big golf trip coming up with his best mates and the competition will be fierce. It’s going to be intense but Greg is pumped for it; really excited about it. Not just because of the golf but because Greg and his mates are going to compete against each other. It’s going to be hilarious fun and all involved – because of the intensity and the banter – will have a great time.

Have you ever had that experience when you are playing in a game – in a competition and you sense that your opponent has given up? It deflates you. Something’s lost.

So it’s about the competition – not necessarily the winning. So with Greg’s golfing weekend – they all know that that each person is at different levels of skill – so to make it competitive everyone gets a handicap.

Grows your skills – helps you focus

Competition gets you excited. Depending on the level of competition, mastery and skills, competition helps you focus and have that steely gaze. If you’re playing regularly, like in a weekly or monthly competition of some type – it gets you motivated and the energy as you get towards performance lifts – something which is missing in so many lives. When you have competition in some form in your life the energy lifts and this flows on to other aspects of your life.

It kind of stretches you. With any form of competition there will be a weakness and that will be the area where my skill needs to be grown and even though I can actually put in the work and I can practise and practise, it’s in the field of competition that we are stretched. On the battlefield – that’s where we are stretched and achievement occurs.

There’s so many, different forms of competition. And you just have to think about what is the best way, the best form of competition for you. It might be a local crossfit and getting yourself up for a crossfit event / competition. It might be competing in a triathlon. It could be rejoining a sporting club, doing your first marathon. It could be anything, where you are in a field of battle, where you’re competing. And get your mates involved, or something. So it has a bit more energy and fun to it. And that will make the competition that much more worthwhile.

Your values underpin YOU

Underneath all of what we’re saying, are your values. Because the good competition, the good competitor, comes from the base of their values.
Greg remembers that when at school – there used to be a tradition that at the end of a match, they would have to clap off the opposition. This is such an important part of being a good sportsman. This is what we’re looking for, is, if you’re in an environment where the mindset is, just purely, “I win, you lose” – good ego versus self, so to speak. And this is what’s going on at the moment in politics in particular. Where there’s no respect at all, for the competition.

Greg played rugby in the UK about 2003 and he witnessed a tradition he’s never seen in Australia. In the UK Greg was the captain of the rugby team and they would go and visit another team in another town. Greg was playing for Brighton and they’d get into South Hampton or Haywood’s Heath or something and play their team and afterwards, the home captain would have to buy the away captain a pint of beer, in the club house.

They’ve just be on the field, battling each other, thumping each other, like a whole bunch of thugs, then they’d go and have a really good, civil beer, because what they’re celebrating was rugby as a sport, the spirit of friendship, pushing yourself, character building, all these things, which were so important to competition. Too often that gets forgotten.

Pricey knows only too well the competitor in Greg and could not help reminding him about Pricey’s New Zealand cousins. John Eales says one of the worst moments of his career, was when the team turned their backs on the Hakka. And it was that lack of respect. At the time, he didn’t see it as that, but he’s grown into that sense of he shouldn’t have done it.

When Competition goes wrong

So, there’s two types of problem when competition goes wrong. One is when you’ve lost respect for the competition and it’s all about, we win, they lose and they are scum. The other is when you’re competing and you don’t even know it.

And this happens all the time, particularly in a work context. When you’re competing with your peers, almost at a subconscious level for the next role. That’s one of the big differences between sport and business. In business, often, you’re competing with your teammates for the next role. Whereas in sport, everyone’s on the same team.

When that happens, that’s when you can, almost without even thinking about it, sacrifice your values, do things that aren’t quite right. But it all happens, generally, outside of our normal conscious awareness. And that’s where competition can be toxic, and that’s where it is bad. So what we’ve got to get back to, is, competition being a wonderful thing that teaches character and humility and growth.

Both you and your adversary grow

So, when we compete, when we are aware, and we are very deliberately in the field of battle I grow and my adversary stretches me, and the same is happening for them. It’s great. When I’m not aware, and I can be dumping, and I can be backstabbing, that’s when the toxic culture comes in. And that’s when you lose that great sense of team.

So when you forget your values, when you’re ego is driving you, when you’re not aware, competition can do a lot of harm. So what are we looking for here? We’re looking to create something within our lives where there’s a bit of a competitive out. That we can have great banter. It gives perspective, a bit of tribalism, where we can have rituals that create a sense of belonging with other members of our team.

Pricey recalls, being hopeless at sport, that one of the great moments in his sporting life was that he was playing a golf course in the north of Ireland with a mate who is now a partner in Price Waterhouse. It was a beautiful little course, and Pricey’s friend was really good at golf. But he took his game very, very seriously. Pricey’s there with his three iron, seven iron and putter. His friend is lining up the ball, wacking it with his wood and it’s skewing off to the right, 50 or 60 metres. Pricey comes up with his little 3 iron and right down the middle – bounce, bounce, bounce. Pricey rubbed it in, and rubbed it in. And as the day went on, Pricey’s mate’s golf just got worse and worse. At the pub that night, Pricey loved it, because the useless player had won and the serious golfer was so frustrated – but in the midst of all the banter we could have a beer and laugh about it!

Where great friendship is born

It can be at times like this that great friendships are forged. One of the great things that happens with competition is, there is something special, that happens when you’ve bled and been through a challenge and adversity with a teammate. In Greg’s playing days, playing club rugby, you’d come off the field, and it’s almost like you’re wiping a bit of blood off your brow or something and nursing a bit of ice on the elbow, and you look over, your back’s against the concrete walls in the change rooms, you look over and there’s your mate and they’ve been through exactly the same thing.

There is a bond there that comes because you’ve put your body on the line for them, you’ve done something special together. As you grow older as does your body – we probably couldn’t put our body on the line for anything. We’d snap in half. Right. But we can still have that feeling, by trying to grow myself and do something and have a shared experience with other people. That’s what is one of the great things about competition. When you know someone else is as committed to the cause as you are.
And when you and your team have got that, and the other, and the other’s team, good competition between teams, builds a sense of tradition.

For example you go to the Anzac Day game, and you’re there with 90 or so thousand. And there’s a great sense of a tradition, built on competition. Built on the sense of respect. But bloody hell, they on the field, want to win.

Greg’s been a part of, a touch football team now, it’s been playing for over 20 years. And what he’s found over the years is, the traditions just keep building, on building, and building and there’s new – new T-shirts and hats and all sorts of cool merchandise, because people want to be a part of it. Now it’s a social footy team. They just play like, B or C grade at a local field, but you know what, boy, they are determined to win every week. You get excited every single week.

Rituals, symbols, traditions

A really important part of all that then is, the little rituals, the little symbols and they create that competition, the very best sense of the word. So you get the little beer holder done and special caps, etc… That’s team A versus team B. In Pricey’s little home town of Proserpine, every year on Boxing day, there’s this huge game of backyard cricket, between the Militia and the Bandits and, there’s 50 / 60 guys turn up, every single year. It’s been happening for for years and the laughter and fun – and the competition is unreal!

Perspective – belonging

One thing that is really important with competition is that we’ve got to have perspective that’s a sense of belonging. You’ve got to have your very clear, clear sorts of goals. You know, I’m going to achieve this, this and this. I’m going to grow myself here. And then, just remember. It’s not about domination of the other person to their own detriment.

It can be domination of skill, of quality and performance, that’s absolutely fine, but it’s not this horrible take no prisoners approach, because, if we go back to it, what it is all about is, demonstrating great sportsmanship, whether we’re playing sport or not. This is a great question that we could all put to our politicians. Would you say that any of them are great sports? Do they demonstrate that character, that statesmanship? And the answer is no. They’re not doing that. And that’s what makes people so frustrated in many ways.

How often have we heard, “Hey. This has become personal”. Now that’s when competition loses something. When it grows your actual respect. Where, at the end of that competition, you walk over, you shake hands, you go away to the pub and have a beer, whatever the thing is, you feel good about yourself. And even if the person who’s actually lost on the field, they’re feeling better about their own selves too.

We’ve got litmus test around competition and it’s this. If, at the end of the competition, maybe you’re doing a marathon against your mates or you’re playing a game of footie or you’re… whatever it is you’re looking to do, if, as you’re preparing for the competition, you can’t think about planning for a beer afterwards with the people you’re competing against, then you’re in trouble. It means you’ve got no respect for them. It means you haven’t done that piece. So, there’s your litmus test. “Could I have a beer with the opposition directly after we’ve finished?”

And regardless of the result – the winner is that both you and your opponent, whether individual or team have got up and gone out onto the battlefield of life and are better people for it! We walk from the field better people!

And when you’re in that place, mate, that is when competition lights your fire. that’s when you get that energy, because it’s got… it defeats loneliness and selfishness and depression and all these things because you are a part of something that is cool.

It drives life and I’ve grown my sense of self. You’ve grown in your sense of self. We all win.

Stay Legendary

Grego & Pricey