What with all that is going on in the Olympics and new world records being set every day, I have been thinking about competition in general and how it can spur people to rise to new heights; how it can push them to accomplish great things and how even a sixth place finisher can set his own personal all-time best.  That guy is a winner every bit as much as the one who took home the gold. Why? Because he did something he’d never done before and broke his own record, not by mere thousandths of a seconds, but by three whole seconds.

Competition should get people to try harder, to be better and rise higher in what they do.  It is about excelling and taking the opportunity to be the best.  Why then, I continue to wonder, does competition sometimes bring out the worst in people? Why the need to cheat or lie or con to stay at the top?

I was always taught, as a manager, to teach my crew to be able to be as good as I was, to enable them to succeed and climb up any ladder, corporate or otherwise, that they were mentally able to climb.  Competition can bring out new ideas, ways of doing business that are fresh and ground-breaking.  It should foster a common goal to be the best and to do the best job for those whom we serve.  Not the other way around.

Many a gold medal athlete has been ‘the best’ and had their moment or moments in the sun.  What do they do after that? They often teach or coach others to do what they did and then, happily, watch their proteges beat their best times or add an extra twist and set a whole new bar for the next generation.  Often the ‘old guard’ still trains and competes neck and neck with those whom they have shared their knowledge and talents. Together they push forward, encouraging each other every bit as much as they compete against each other.  This is what brings out that ‘best’ in their skills, character, and as human beings.

Going for the gold is not something reserved for twelve days every two years.  It is something one strives for every day.  So go after your golden moments with honor, strength of character, skill and that bit of magic you hold deep inside.  You may still not be THE best, but I assure you, you will be YOUR best!


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