Throughout my entire childhood, I have always been unbelievably competitive. As someone who was in a school specifically designed for high-level athletes, the only thing that mattered was performance. While that may bring more pressure, it was always something that I relished. Mostly because the fear of not being first would push me to try and outperform my competitors (teammates). I really didn’t understand the culture surrounding a winning environment until I went to that competition based school. I may have been very competitive as a kid, but when I was in regular school being a winner was sometimes frowned upon.
Being A Winner Was Being A Loser In 3rd Grade
Like I said earlier, when I was a kid competition was something that I loved. Whether that was winning a class competition or winning my soccer game on the weekend, I hated losing. But when I was in third grade I found my first taste of an adult frowning upon my ability to win competitions. The class assignment was to create a poster that best represented a book that we read aloud in class; a western fiction book. Each class in my grade would participate and the winner of the grade would get Mcdonalds for free, and as a 3rd grader, Mcdonalds was the ultimate prize.
So being the competitive person that I am, I tried to make the best poster design that I could. When I was finished with the poster I was certain that I would win the competition, and sure enough, I did. The day the results came back of who won, the teacher-judges informed me I was the winner. Obviously, I was happy but I didn’t gloat or put it in peoples faces, I just really wanted that 1st place prize of a Mcdonald’s meal. Before I knew it, I turned around to see the girl who had not placed absolutely crying her eyes out. Although I felt bad she was upset, there was nothing I could do for her because I had put in the extra effort to win. When the teachers saw the girl crying, they decided to give her the same prize as me; a free Mcdonald’s meal. When I saw that, I confronted the teacher and asked her why. The teacher then replied, “It’s not fair that you will get a better prize so we are going to give it to her too.” understandably, I was mad and I decided that I wasn’t going to take the prize anymore. That coveted prize I had worked so hard for had become devalued by the teachers giving it away to someone who lost. This clearly irritated the teachers, so they called my Mom and explained her the situation and told my Mom she should tell me to apologize to them. Thank god for my Mom because she told the teachers that they shouldn’t reprimand me for being upset that they devalued the hard work that I put in. If it wasn’t for my Mom I might have grown up believing that putting in the hard work doesn’t really matter. Because according to my teachers, if you win, it might not be fair to the person that you beat.
I will never forget that moment because it was the first time where I really realized that winning was something that took hard work and planning. And although the teachers decided to frown upon the hard work I had put in, my Mom set me back straight when she told me hard work would be the differentiator when it came to winning.
How That Experience Pushed Me To Want To Win
Sometimes in our culture, winning or being successful may be frowned upon. But as someone who has won a lot of high-level athletic competitions (and lost), I can firmly say that the feeling you receive after a win is so gratifying. When I was in 3rd grade and had that experience it angered me and I couldn’t understand why I was being punished. But I soon used that negative anger and turned it into positive energy in sports, and later in life, entrepreneurship.
People and sometimes parents will tell their kids to not be so competitive. But without even putting a foot forward in competition you won’t be exposed to losing. And for me, losing has always been a massive motivator because I hate the feeling of not being first. I wish a positive culture of winning would be pushed more in society and, namely, in schools. If you have a kid work hard in a competitive space, they will learn two things. The first thing they could learn is that working hard could benefit them in the end when they win. And they will love that win even more because they earned it through hard work. The second thing they could learn is that even though they worked really hard, they might not win in the end. And having that experience is equally as important as having the experience of winning.
Life, through my eyes, is one big competition. I was lucky enough to learn lessons about hard work and competition early on. Whether that was through sports-based competitions or academic-based competitions, my parents always forced me to recognize the importance of hard work. Which is something that I wish was more prevalent in society today.
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