I’m pretty sure we’re all aware that the Winter Olympics started this last weekend. I love the Olympics, especially the Winter Games (ironic since I detest snow). My heart swells and I get teary-eyed watching the hopeful athletes march in with excitement and anticipation, especially from unlikely countries with only one or two athletes. I hum along to the bum bum da da du dum of the Olympic sonic logo.
Several times, I’ve heard a catchy jingle “Anything I can do, I can do better” in a commercial. I have no idea what it’s advertising, but I know it’s a take on the lyrics, “Anything you can do, I can do better.” It’s kind of a nice idea: every Olympic athlete is only there to do their personal best. In the spirit of Olympic unity, it’s all one big lovefest. I’m quite certain that’s at least 99.9% not true.
I imagine that even those who know they don’t stand a chance of winning a medal harbor a secret dream to have the performance of their life while the competition falters and falls, somehow creating a miracle story of underdog triumph.
Although the Olympic spirit is one of global camaraderie, it’s also one of competition – winners and losers. I’m always a little bit amused when people claim they aren’t competitive. I wonder how they define competitive because these are people who usually have to be right. Or they must have the latest car or fashions. They bake the best apple pie or take the most exotic trips. This all sounds pretty competitive. It may not be sports, but it’s about being better than someone else.
Lest you think I believe I’m above such things, I’m not. I’ll own it. I’m competitive.
My heart has always beat faster at the thought of coming in first, being a little bit better, a little bit smarter than the rest. That carrot of being number 1, even if it’s just for a moment, sends a thrill of adrenaline down my spine and I kick it into gear.
I think we’re all competitive about something.
It’s part of the human condition. It’s how we determine how good we are at something. We need benchmarks and comparisons to know what success is. At least that’s what we’ve been taught.
I have mixed feelings about competition. I’ve worked pretty hard not to be so competitive (I would like to have a few friends). Taken to one extreme, it can make us all jerks. On the other extreme, well . . . I’ll spare you a diatribe about what participation medals are doing to our work ethic. I will say this: that’s the hidden side of competition.
The hard work.
No one gets the gold medal without a lot of hard work. A lot. We see the end result standing on the podium, but thousands of hours go into training, planning, analyzing. I don’t even know what all. It’s the same with anything – playing the piano, discovering a new scientific theory, writing, the list could go on.
No one gets to “the top” without a lot of dedication, sacrifice, and work. No one gets there alone either. Maybe that’s what bothers me about the jingle. The message is about doing our best, pushing to the next level. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
None of us can take full credit for anything we’ve done or accomplished. A slew of coaches, teachers, mentors, family, friends all helped us on our journey to success.
It isn’t as catchy, but maybe “Anything we can do?”