I never played sports when I was growing up. No one in my family did. And although both of my parents graduated from colleges with strong football programs, we never dressed in team colors and gathered around the TV on Sunday afternoons to watch their teams play. We didn't notice the Army/Navy football game even though both of my parents were Navy veterans. The same familial indifference to sports applied to professional teams. Fact is, I can't remember a single moment from my past when sports was even a topic of discussion around the dinner table. Maybe this can explain my "issues" with competitiveness. For much of my life, I thought that being competitive was a bad thing and playing to win was a concept that eluded me. Does this mean that having a competitive spirit is a product of "nature" or "nurture". Is it something that some people are simply wired with or do we have to learn to be competitive?
When I was in Junior High School, I loved staying after school to watch the girls basketball teams compete, secretly marveling at their athleticism and their tenacity as they dug deep for that next jump shot. It never occurred to me that I could play sports, but I remember thinking "that is so cool!" Boys always competed in one thing or another. In sports especially, it was not only acceptable, but encouraged. But for girls to be aggressively and openly competitive...that was another story.
But somewhere along the line, I became a "closet" competitor. As my business career began to take off, I started to listen to that voice inside me that urged me to try harder...to do more...to go for it..to win! But I still couldn't do it openly. To be conspicuously competitive was like wearing shoes that were too tight. It just didn't feel right. In retrospect, maybe it was just a way to protect my ego in case I didn't win whatever it was I was competing for. After all, it was much easier to be nonchalant than to admit that losing mattered.
It's been over 40 years since I sat on the sidelines wanting to be more like those girls on the basketball court and a lot has changed. Now I can finally admit that I have a competitive spirit. There I said it!
I even play competitive league tennis these days. The operative word there is "competitive". When I first picked up a racquet, I told my husband it was just for the exercise. He was the one who kept encouraging me to play on a team. I had no experience at team sports, and besides, "I'm just not that competitive", I told him. That was 4 years ago and now I captain a team that is in a tight race among the top three in a league of 11 other teams. I even welcome the chance to be on the court with better players so I can learn more, but also because I get such a charge from winning a point off of them. Yea, I love winning. I love putting away a shot at the net that is a deciding point. And as much as I love winning, I can also openly admit now that I hate losing.
All of this holds true in our real estate business, too. It is that same competitive spirit that motivates me to keep trying in this dismal market. I openly rejoice in our victories, no matter how small. And frankly, I don't know if it is my distaste for losing or my joy of winning, but learning to embrace my own competitiveness has been a big part of my professional growth over the years. I will never be a cut throat competitor - the type of person who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And that's ok with me.
I believe that we all have to find that inner voice that encourages us "try harder...to do more...to go for it..to win". Every day, I remind myself that when we lose our will, we can also lose our way. It's hard to stay focused and positive when you work in a market like ours that is down 60%, but embracing my competitive spirit gets me up in the morning and motivates me to keep moving forward. So, in the end, even though I'm a little late coming into the game, I'm better prepared and ready to play. Put me in coach!
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