The Olympics have been all over the TV and news outlets over the past several weeks. It got me thinking about all the past students I've had who were "Superstars" in martial arts.
Let me start out by saying that I do not teach students to "win" at tournaments. As some martial artists even require that their students go to tournaments to be considered for higher rank, I have not, do not, will not.
I do suggest they give it a try to see if it's something that they like, however, if they decide to never compete, I don't think anything about it.
There is only one person that I really compete against: ME. It was always fun to see how I would do at a tournament, but it's not really a complete demonstration of all the hard work I've put into something.
So Olympics. Hundreds of athletes from all over the world, gathering to each compete in their specific skill set to see who is the "best". But it doesn't take into account that their "best" one day is not nearly as good as their best the next. We all look at the athlete who got Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Or the one who "should have" but fell short.
What about the athletes who placed 6th but got a time better than they ever have in their entire career? Or the lady that out jumped her previous personal best and didn't even get a pat on the back? That's why I compete only with myself.
I know when I haven't gotten enough sleep or eaten the type of food that would fuel me to my best. And I know exactly how I did the last time I worked a specific skill. I know when I've beaten my personal best and when and why I didn't come close to my record. If I only really judge myself based off competing with myself, then I'm recognizing improvement and potential growth. If I judge myself based off competing with others, then I'm feeling like a failure when I lose or the "best" when I win. I'm judging myself based off of one attempt, on a random day, against a guy who could be better than me or just could have had a great day.
So I implore you. Instead of going for the Gold, recognize growth in yourself. Competition with others should be fun. Competition with yourself should be uplifting.