Healthy Competition

I love sports. Playing and now, mostly, spectating. I love games. Playing, not spectating. I enjoy engaging in competition. Even success in my career was built on this enjoyment of competition.

To me, competition is fun. And it’s more fun when you win. I always engage with the intent to win. Turns out, this doesn’t always make me a desirable competitor. In other words, losing has not always brought out the best in me.

Vince Lombardi once said, “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” Before we just say “Amen” to that, let’s explore a possible path to competition that is healthier for us and for those we’re competing with.

In my retirement, I have enjoyed the opportunity to become more engaged with sports. Being a spectator – in person or on tv – of college/professional football & basketball as well as professional hockey & baseball has been expanded to include Major League Soccer and the Women’s National Basketball Association. Since I spend a fair amount of time contemplating life from an eternal perspective, I recently asked myself the question, “will there be sports (competition) in heaven?” I believe the answer is yes, which prompts the next obvious question, “what will that look like when there are winners & losers?”

These questions prompted me to observe the best that competition has to offer us, even today. Imagine a hockey game where the players line up at the end and congratulate each other – but without first having fist fights during the competition itself. Imagine a football game with players from both teams gathered at the end to amicably talk about how a certain point in the game was pivotal to the outcome. Imagine being thrilled for your competitor when they can beat you at your best and looking forward to the next opportunity to return the favor. Imagine what we refer to as good sportsmanship All. The. Time. This is healthy competition.

I’ve witnessed this from a career perspective several times. As a Finance Executive, I participated in acquisitions and divestitures of business units. Businesses that were not thriving within our company were divested to a competitor that was better equipped to invest properly in that product line, and vice versa. While we were seeking to build the best company we could, the idea of these deals was that BOTH companies were healthier and potentially more successful as a result. As a Pastor, my church was not in competition with other churches because we were all working for the common goal of reaching people to grow God’s Kingdom. We literally support and cheer for one another. Even church mergers are happening when the answer is yes to the question, “are we better together?”

I love sports, games, & competition. I have learned more and more to engage in the fun, win or lose. Because some who know me well will read this, I must readily admit that I still have more and more learning to do in this regard! I do highly anticipate The Day when competition will be engaged in for the pure fun of it. The score will be kept, Mr. Lombardi, but win or lose, the competition is everything.

Have fun. Try your best to win. And be happy (a.k.a. healthy) when someone does!

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