I remember playing basketball in different leagues throughout high school and college (when I didn’t have broken bones). There were good game and then there were games that we got absolutely crushed, like the time we went out of town for a game. It felt like the 1990s Bulls playing a junior high team. But one thing I recall is that I got so focused on my direct competition that obsessed about that. I wanted to win.
On one hand, that was an expert play. Watch them. Study them. Analyze every move. Know where they like to shoot from. Know if they are left or right handed, how they pivot, if they play man-to-man or zone, if they muscle in for the basket or shoot threes all night long. All these are good questions, a great process to handle your competition better and raise your own skills.
However, one thing lacked for me. I was only getting as good as my competition. I never excelled beyond them. Looking back, if I really wanted to beat them I should have done two things:
- Looked for greater competition.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
What I failed to see and understand is that I held my attention on a group of amateurs rather than on the kings and queens of basketball. I should have trained by watching NBA and some crazy good college teams; I honed in on small fish rather than focused on the pros. I was so focused in on what lay directly in front of me — in my small community — that I neglected the greater battles and learning adventures that lay beyond. I only focused on beating them. It didn’t occur to me to be the best that I could.
What does this mean for you and me today? It means stop focusing on the small competition, the ones that are growing slowly, the small problems of the day. We can so rapidly focus our minds on the details that we lose sight of the grander vision. I’ve caught myself spending time ensuring a few emails and notes were exceptionally done at the expense of developing a solid Q3 plan. I’ve found myself responding to urgent requests, rather than dealing with the importing priorities of the month. Problems over opportunities.
We could all go on. We could beat up ourselves because we’ve failed others or we’ve failed ourselves — but why? Just like the pick-up games I now play on Sunday afternoons, let’s analyze our competition to beat them, but watch the pros so we can be the best. It’s not even about being in a small — or big community—it’s raising your sights.
When we played the out-of-town game and got absolutely squashed, that was a learning event. They were so much better than us and our direct competition, it reoriented our minds. It showed us who and what to focus on.
One of the more fascinating aspects is that I’m becoming less and less concerned about losing. It’s about growing and learning to take on bigger and bigger competition. It’s shedding shortsightedness and seeing a larger basketball court.
Who is your competition?