Competing is important, even if you have no chance of winning

This past weekend I competed in a team CrossFit competition at my affiliate gym Academy of Lions. I’ve only been doing the sport for three months, it was my first competition and I’ve never lifted some of the weights required—basically, I had no chance of winning. But I registered anyway and here’s why.

Knowing how to compete is essential to every aspect of your life, including business. Competing will help you improve organizational skills, develop mental toughness, enhance team-building skills and build confidence.

Here are four reasons why you should participate in a competition:

  1. Teaches you to plan ahead. It’s critical. You need a training schedule no matter how many times you’ve competed. Circumstances have changed and you’ve changed. Bottom line, be prepared. Outline your goals and objectives for the event, make sure you identify your strengths and weaknesses and if it’s a team competition start talking strategy. In Dr. Miller’s book titled, Performing under pressure: Gaining mental edge in business and in sport he suggests, “Define exactly what it is you want to do, feel, or be. Acknowledge the creative, capable person you are. Script your performance…Mentally rehearse yourself being there, hitting all the elements, perfectly.”
  2. Requires that you stay focused and remain positive. Nerves are healthy; it’s how you manage them that make the difference between successfully completing a race or cracking under pressure. Canadian Olympic athlete, Simon Whitfield recently tweeted, “Don’t try and get rid of the butterflies, just make them fly in formation”. Use your intensity and passion to drive your motivation. Roger Bannister, the first runner to break the four-minute mile in 1954, once said, “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs that is the critical organ. It’s the brain.”
  3. Helps you recognize who your support system is and how to leverage them. Make sure you surround yourself with people who care about you. No matter how strong you think you are, you will have moments of doubt. Your support system will help you weather that storm. I was achingly nervous two weeks prior to the competition. Talking about my anxieties helped me keep things in perspective. It was helpful to remind myself of why I was competing which was to have fun and feel part of the CrossFit community. One of my friends shared a great quote with me, “You were born to be real, not to be perfect”.
  4. Makes you realize that you’re stronger than you think. On event day, the adrenaline’s pumping, people are cheering and something inside of you says “let’s do this”. Magically, you can dig deeper than ever before. In a recent study published in the NY Times the reason is, “in a race… the brain seems to allow athletes to tap more deeply into energy stores than would ordinarily be permitted.” Further explained in another article about mental training tips for athletes, “What you’re physically capable of in an endurance environment is more determined by your mental strength than your physical capabilities… your body can go beyond what your physical perceptions of tiredness or fatigue are.” So push yourself!

American sports journalist, Howard Cosell said it best, “The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give.”

Sign up and train for a race or competition this spring. Not only will you learn a lot about yourself, most importantly you’ll enjoy the experience!

To read more about my CrossFit journey, check out my previous post titled, Stepping out of your comfort zone.

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