How to stop competing and win.

I have always been a runner, I love it because running does not depend on having a field to play, having a team or getting a bunch of people organized to go play. I dislike it because it requires extreme discipline, nobody is waiting for you, not your team not the other team just the park, the streets, the roads.

I love it also because some time ago it gave me one of the best lessons I have had in life: how to stop competing and win! I know it sounds weird, to win you have to compete, everybody knows that. And in the occidental culture we have mastered education based on competition. I remember my parents telling me to get the best grades at school and pushing me to win at the sports where I participated; I confess that to a good degree I did the same with my kids.

Then college and jobs keep pushing us to “beat the competition” so we get the best from the world. As most of us develop working for profitable organizations or start our companies we continue that frenzy idea of winning. Winning the client, winning the sale and winning the market. And don’t get me wrong winning is nice, it feels good to be the champion, it feels great to be number 1. But as you will see it can be not a goal but a nice result.

Running gave me a secret formula to win without competing or at least not competing in the traditional way. I must have been in my 20’s when a new runner’s club in my city was promoting its membership, the sports director was an Olympic athlete that competed in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, and one of the requisites to join the club was to have an interview with him.

Up to that point I have not had any formal athletic training to improve my running I was used to just put on my sneakers, shorts, t-shirt and start running, no technique at all; and I was thrilled with the idea of joining the club and get formal training to improve because I knew I might win.

It was the interview that gave me the greatest lesson; I met Enrique Aquino, Olympic athlete, coach and technical director of the runner’s club. He began the interview by asking me why I wanted to join the club.

–          “I love running and I had never had formal training I would like to become a better runner”

–          “And why do you want to become a better runner?”

–          “I would like to start competing in some races like 5k, 10k or even marathons”

–          “And why do you want to become better to compete in those races?”

I paused, a little surprised with the question and I answered “to win of course, to win the races!” in my mind there was no space for other reason to become better than compete to win.

Enrique answered as politely as he could: “well, you won’t win, let me explain, there is a type of runner called an elite runner; elite runners wake up in the morning and train, eat, run, rest, train again, eat every 4 hours including at night, then rest, run, train and eat again, running is their job, profession and passion, and those are the ones that win the races; for the rest of the runners that we call recreational runners, yes they do participate in races and seem to be competing against each other but they are not, every runner has something called his or her PR, personal record, that is the best time that they have achieved in their running history and they are not competing against other runners they are competing against their PR, so let’s say they did 40 minutes in their last 10k race, they are training and pushing themselves to do 39 minutes and 55 seconds the next time, reducing 5 seconds might be a lot of work and training but they win when they beat their PR, beating another runner does not mean as much.”

Now that I know that coaching is about getting a better version of ourselves, I cannot find a better story than this to communicate the importance of defining our PR in the activities that we do and love and where we want to improve and compete, where we want a better PR.

To me it is extremely empowering and energizing that I am competing against my PRs, against a version of myself as a son, brother, father, husband, boss, leader, entrepreneur, speaker, coach, man, a version that I want to improve to reach a new PERSONAL RECORD.
Do you want a better you?, stop competing against the others, review your personal records and start competing against yourself, work hard to get that new PR that will get you the best sense of accomplishment. I assure you will win without competing.

August 24, 2012

Guillermo Mendoza guillermo@impactcoachingsolutions.com +1(832)334-3583

Executive Coach, inspirational international speaker, insightful writer, engaging trainer, empowering individuals and organizations to transform getting the results they want faster and better.

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