Talking to Hanga about competing
Yesterday I talked to Hanga, she told me about her athletics training session, a discussion that I like to engage in with great interest. She told me that they regularly do smaller house competitions. At one of these sessions, she came second in a three round competition, but continued, that she should have come in third. I asked her what she meant, as I did not understand her. She again told me that she came in second, but that she should have been third…..I still asked her to make herself clear, as I still didn’t understand her.
She continued by saying, that one of the girls, who is generally better than her most of the time, lost her balance, and she could overtake her. I still told her, that I do not understand her, and asked her how that matters. She started to get a bit agitated, typically in her own way, why I didn’t understand her. I just smiled….and finally I told her what I was insinuating all along:
My dear, at the time of a competition, two things just don’t exist, and these two are “if” and “would have”.
A competition is in real time, it counts, measures and ranks in real time, therefore, at this particular competition, you came in second, no ifs or buts. You have to learn, that a competition, is a possibility at that particular time and place, it is a non returning opportunity in time and place, and the following competition is the next possibility, but the given competition is not the result of ifs or buts.
I don’t like to read race reports by sportsmen, who assure us that if the circumstances had been better, and different, they would have achieved better results. A true sportsman makes a note of this maximum to himself, to collect new motivation for better results in the future from this disappointment, but nothing more.
I much prefer those reports, where they tell me what happened, what they have learned from the last race, what they have to improve either physically or mentally, to be able to achieve the expected result. Not to blame it on external conditions, where in fact since the external conditions could be equally as unsatisfying for all participants. This means, that the competition is completely fair to all competitors. Either favors all, or presents a disadvantage equally to all.
A competition is a specific way of life, it is not only a final countdown of your efforts invested in your daily training. It is also a showdown of your nerves and mental preparation, and finally a bucket of luck as well. It is very different from a high school exam, where if you know your books, you will pass. The exam does not compare, it counts its maximum points. It is a pass even if all other students pass as well, provided that you have reached the maximum points.
A competition is much more complex than a school exam. It compares to others, the field, therefore a competition is absolute and relative at the same time. It measures time or any other given measure as an absolute, and your placing within that given time relatively. So therefore, it is no good to be potentially considered the best, when at the given time, there is someone better, you will take second best only.
A true competitor never wants to be a potential winner, a true competitor wants to win, case closed.
So what I finally said to Hanga was the following: be proud of your silver medal, truly from your heart, and next time aim for the gold, and accept it if you achieve it. In case you are worse than expected, look for the solution within you!!!