My kids are twins. They’re 11. Going on 5. Or 35. Sorta depends on the day, I guess.
I have a son. He’s all boy. Sports. Dirt. Sweat.
I also have a daughter. She’s all girl. Clothes. Creativity. Curiosity.
With twins, everything’s competitive. I laugh frequently, because my athletic son cannot draw a stick man without a stencil. My very highly creative daughter, finds dribbling a basketball beneath her station. Yet – if one were to challenge the other’s skill in said ‘department’, well, let’s just say, “Game on!”
Have you ever been competitive about something you know you’re not that good at …?
I have. I probably do it way more than I am even aware. Certainly more than I’d care to admit.
But for some reason, with kids (at least mine), there is no end to what they’ll claim excellence at, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. So far, so good – they’re still learning and developing.
In life, there are so many things we are really good at, things we have been gifted with and wired naturally to do and excel in. Admittedly, competition can drive us to improve upon what we are good at, but can it also impede us from being excellent?
What I mean is, when we find ourselves brimming with that competitive spirit, are we competing and building upon our strengths, or accentuating our weaknesses? Do we really have to be excellent everywhere? In everything? Do we prevent others from excelling when we get competitive, simply because they back down or shy away, maybe because you’re the leader?
Or, should we maybe let our areas of mediocrity speak for themselves and let someone else take over where our limits lie (assuming theirs are beyond ours, of course)?
What if, instead, we all agreed that we would encourage each other (not push) in areas of strength, and step boldly and proudly aside when someone else on our team excels at something?
My son plays lacrosse. It’s too soon to say this definitively, but for now at least he states that he’s not an excellent defender, so he’d rather play a position that requires some defense, but not all the time. This is good – he knows his limits, and thankfully his team DOES have terrific defenders, so they play those positions ‘full-time’.
My daughter loves art. She decorates her room, our kitchen, the laundry room, my office and any other free space she’s allowed. I, on the other hand, am not allowed to make any aesthetic decisions, which suits and pleases everyone.
At work or in whatever setting you lead in, is it maybe time stop and think whether you’re competitive for the sake of personal improvement (good) or the sake of proving a point (less good)?
Are you in a position to take a vulnerable step and tell someone they are better at something than you are, and invite them to take point (even if you’re good at it yourself)? Where would this type of leadership take you? Your team?
I’m super proud of my competitive kids. At least I know they’re good at teaching me something useful. What I learned about leadership from my 10 year olds is to be competitive for my own good and that of those I serve, and to stop and really be sure I’m not competing just to “win” at any expense. I hope this helps you, too.
If it does, please share your thoughts here with me. I’ll let the kids know how they’ve helped many others!