I love reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Always with a Youth Focus, Inc. event that is precisely what happens. But what you don’t know is that the Cal State Week Experience continues to teach you about yourself even if you are not competing.
Today I had the pleasure of picking up the girl I am chaperoning for the week – Miss Orange County Maddie Wickerman. She lives four miles from my old place in Huntington and we got along swimmingly from the start. I then headed to meetings and the ever long process of hurry up and wait that seems to be inevitable when this many people get together for a something of this grand nature.
As I encountered more and more people I have known throughout the years and was consistently asked about my brother (who was a previous title holder) and my ex-fiancé (also a previous title holder) and only once directly asked about my life (and only for a brief interlude). What a perspective to get on the impact you had on people. At first this made me sad because I felt like I had not made that grand an impact of people who have made a big one on my life. But then I realized I had been given a gift. I get to lay a foundation of who I am now and what makes me a great person, teaching and encouraging the next generation.
This also gave me time to consider such grand ideas of what competition really means. In today’s world competition is measured by who one can step on to climb a ladder, but really what that teaches is not success but emptiness – you end up alone on top with no one with whom to share the spoils. Competition is also often taught as a way to compare oneself to another. But there will always be someone who is better at everything than you. If you don’t believe me, take a look at me and my kid brother David who can do anything he puts his mind to well, and often better than me. I have learned a lot from him. So, what this way of thinking does is teach us to be jealous and unhappy with who we are and the many gifts we have to share.
Instead, and stay with me here, I think competition should be taught as a way to best ourselves. When we encourage our competition to do their best, it would actually force us to put our best forward to achieve our desires and goals. For example, in the game of golf it is a part of the etiquette to cheer on the opponent because their success actually pushes you to achieve at a higher level. It is the only game of which I am aware where this is a common practice. Why do we not teach this more?
When one thinks of rising teen suicides and bullying and self-esteem problems for people of all ages, he often thinks it is society’s fault for being too hard on a kid (everyone should be a winner). The problem seems to be that we are not giving enough credit to our kids and that we set them up to feel this way about themselves. Instead, if we encouraged each other on to love and good works we could really improve not just our own lives but make an impact on the people around us. No longer would their successes hurt us, but they would be models of how to grow in our own gifts and talents. No longer would jealousy be able to take root, for we would be encouraged to strengthen our own gifts and talents to be able to achieve at a higher level.
We could make more of an impact if we challenged ourselves to be better today than we were yesterday. I think it is time we changed our focus of competition from being one of outward focus to being one of inward focus. Cheers to being better tomorrow than we are today.