the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Day 14 Competition vs. Fun

Posted by themirrenlee on 14/01/2012

Competition is always made out to be a good, healthy thing – conjuring up as it does images of people happily playing their favorite sports, or rising to challenges to be better, stronger, happier, richer, everything more than someone else. Being a winner. There’s even a saying for it: “No one remembers who won second place.”

I’m wondering, though, if we’ve lost the ability to just have fun?

I play “Words with Friends.” I play about 10 games at once, asking for new Random Opponents as old ones drop out. Do you know why they drop out? Because they’re not winning! Even after only a few moves, if I’ve notched up more points than them, my opponents will resign and disappear. After several months of playing, only 2 opponents have told me they stopped playing because they didn’t have the time. Everyone else just wanted to win.

I now tell my opponents up front that I play the game for the FUN of it, and to improve my vocabulary. I tell them if we’re getting to the end of the game and I’m ahead, I’ll resign so it looks like they won if it’s that important to them! I like playing people better than me because I learn more words or better strategies. I play it because I love to learn and since I’m a words, not numbers, person, Sudoku doesn’t do it for me. I don’t care about the score; the thrill is in the crossword style of putting letters together like a jigsaw puzzle. People think that the game is all about how big your vocabulary is, and that often intimidates them, but it’s not. There’s an awful lot of strategy and just plain old luck that goes into playing it as well.

The funny thing is that because I’m so relaxed about it, I often win in spite of myself. My head isn’t filled with messages like, “If I don’t win, I’m an inferior person,” so I can think more clearly about what I’m doing. Stress and a negatively noise-filled head will hurt you every time. Just ask any coach who helps clients to be their best at anything. The emphasis will be on positivity and doing it for the right reasons. If you do anything just to please someone else, for instance, then you’re living someone else’s goals, and as Anthony Robbins would say: “Prepare for pain.”

One of my sisters once told me that she didn’t like to compete for things in case she lost. This mindset caused her to not do a lot of things that she maybe would have done if she’d just looked upon the “competition” as a fun experience instead. If that sounds like you, realize how sad it is because you’re possibly missing out on so much.

Change your language. It helps change your outlook on things. Stop using the word “compete” and replace it with the word “play”. They’re both verbs, but with vastly different connotations.

“I’m going to play in a marathon next week”. “I’m playing in an job interview tomorrow.” “I love playing with other people in anything.” Doesn’t that sound less stressful?

Take a hint from the quote, “The play’s the thing.” (But not from actors. They, of all people, forget the most to have fun, especially at auditions!)

It’s my move in “Words with Friends” – time to go play. Is your fun competition, or your competition fun? I hope it’s the latter. Not only will it make everything more enjoyable, it’ll also free you up to try more things in life.

I’m just playin’ …

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