Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Competition and Character

Competition. It drives some to succeed while it drives others insane. Through all my activities I have seen every extreme of competition. There are those who could care less who wins or loses as long as they have fun. Then there are those who live and die on the outcome of every competitive venture. Personally, I am a very competitive person. I love to win and hate to lose. My close friends and family know this and see it most in sports that I play. Even board games are taken seriously when I am involved. I want to use this fire within to fuel more than just my desire to bring home a Ping Pong championship or Trivial Pursuit win. I want to win and be successful at everything I do. Failure is not an option. However, if one gets too involved in the competition, they will lose sight of the bigger picture. The solution...a balance of competition and character. You have to be willing to give up small victories so that together we may tackle the big ones. And the best place to learn this (I think) is Little League Baseball. Little League preaches three ideals; Character, Courage, and Loyalty. Having played coached and umpired little league games these values can easily be translated between the ball diamond and life goals. However I want to highlight Character. I always felt and preached as a coach to play the game the right way. I love to win, especially baseball, which means not cutting corners or giving up. Side note: there is not many better feelings than standing on a pitcher's mound 60' 6" away from a fellow ballplayer, knowing that you "own" them and there is no way they will get a hit off you. You here it in movies, but that feeling is dangerously awesome! And the same goes for being a hitter on a hot streak. The baseball looks like a beach ball and you feel invincible knowing that the pitcher can throw whatever he wants, your going to punch the ball right back at him.

But, I also take pride in losing the right way. You should always hold your head up high and give 110% even if your down by 10 runs. As a coach I rarely had any kids who didn't give it their all. My favorite team to have been a part of, player or coach, was my last year as a manager for 13-14 year old's. And after every game, we were still able to enjoy having played the game, regardless of the outcome. Winning the bigger battles was our main goal; not trash talking, hustling out every ground ball, having fun together, and thanking our parents for the opportunity to play baseball on that particular day. We finished the season 5-6 but we had fun every game. We scored A LOT of runs (11 per game) and gave up just as many (12 per game). Those kids just knew how to play the game right, keep their heads up and push through the hard times. And at no point did any of them succumb to cheating or giving up on a game. They showed how much character they really have and I admire that. I challenge any of you who read this to remember that team when your back is against the wall. Don't take the easy way out and never give up! There is always more pride in losing the "right way" than winning the "wrong way."
All in all, competition is good but your character will make you great. Being around the scientific community more and more allows me to notice the competition. As I meet new people, I can picture the little leaguer in all of them. Some would do anything to win, like stealing 2nd base when the pitcher is tying his shoe and forgot to ask for time out. And some would sacrifice whatever for the greater good, like carrying someone around the bases. I strive to surround myself with those genuine people who might give up a big paycheck in order to make a more meaningful contribution to society. Everyone can be destined to make a difference. You must be willing to compete against the struggles and allow your character to carry you to greatness.