Categories Day Job Personal Philosophy

Psychling, or why I don’t care about the competitive edge

Some other lady cyclists I can't keep up withAs I cycled the 5.4 miles to the office today, I had a great revelation: I don’t like competition.

Where to start to explain this statement? How I came to this conclusion? How does it fit with my current existence? Where does it come from? What does it mean to me? Or You?

I suppose the bigger question is: Do you care?

Well, considering you’ve now reached paragraph four, you might because the other haters will have drifted off by now.

Okay, first let me explain what I mean with “I don’t like competition”.

Well, I’m not afraid of competition. I realise that sometimes I’m not a contender. For example it takes me between 35-40 minutes to cycle the 5.4 miles to the office but I’m regularly passed by riders who could probably do it in half that time.

Indeed this morning’s revelation came about because I was outclassed by another rider — someone very close to me in every sense of that word. My wife.

Such Sweet Sorrow

She has been riding with me the first mile or so of the journey to work each morning in a bid to improve her fitness, but hers is such a short journey she finds it difficult to “keep up” with with me. Actually, she confessed the other day that she found me too slow and so this morning I encouraged her to go in front, which she did, and promptly left me in her dust.

As she reached the point where we usually part I was probably 400 metres behind. Her instinct had been to race ahead, to sprint all the way. But at the point where we part she is almost at work; I have another four-and-a-half miles ahead of me.

So, as a result, we have agreed to go our separate ways, but ONLY on the ride to work in the morning.

She can do her “sprint”, I’ll do my “marathon”. We have been married enough years and our relationship is strong enough to realise this “togetherness ride” doesn’t work, for either of us.

This morning, by the two-mile mark, the effects of that first stint had kicked in and my legs were feeling like jelly.

I’m not fit. It’s been five years since I cycled in earnest and you can count the number of two-wheel journeys to work over the past three weeks on the fingers of one hand and a thumb, but it is getting easier and every day seems to be better.

So it was on the two-mile mark that the revelation came. I don’t like competition, or to put it another way: I’m not a fan of competition. Measuring my achievements against other people doesn’t cut it for me.

That’s not to say that I can’t “out-do” the other bloke. I can — and have — on numerous occasions, personally and professionally, it just doesn’t motivate me all that much.

I am my own competition. I measure myself against myself, and if that is better than the other bloke, I don’t care.

Of course the problem with that is “motivation“. If your motivation is driven by what the other bloke has achieved then you will do whatever needs to be done to beat him.

Missed A Motivator

Conversely, if you don’t care what he’s up to, your motivation must be based on other criteria, such as: “does this really matter”?

I’ve realised that there are lots of things I haven’t achieved in my life, simply because I don’t care about them, but there are other things I have overachieved in my life simply because they are important to me, such as having a good marriage.

I’m not sure whether this is a good or a bad thing. (Well, a good marriage is¬†definitely¬†a good thing.)

I think in general using caring as a motivator probably results in more contentment because you set your own goals and levels of satisfaction. The other way gives control to the other bloke, who may be completely differently — and unreasonably –motivated.

And I believe that one problem with competition approach is that if you measure yourself against other people you run the risk of underachieving your full potential because it exceeds the capacity of your rival.

So Wrohnrey?

But because I don’t care about how rich or successful the other bloke is, I may have failed to achieve what he has, even though it might have been easily within my grasp. Should I care?

How did I become like this? Perhaps it’s all part of being an only child? I had no siblings to measure myself against in terms of love or support. I got all there was. I didn’t have to share it around.

No matter. Whatever the truth, it is my reality. And making self discoveries like this can only be helpful, can’t they?

“To thine own self be true,” says Shakespeare’s Polonius in Hamlet, “and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

With me, you get what you see. A big bloke in lycra shorts, cycling to work (when it doesn’t rain).