Once I asked my Priest to come talk to my wrestling team. He walked into the room with a towel and asked them what they thought he might have under the towel. Being quite unaware of where he was going with this question, many had no idea what to say. He proceeded to explain that what was under the towel was indeed their greatest opponent. I bring this up at this moment because I believe as a society in general we may be teaching our children to focus their energy in the wrong direction. Whether it is academics, athletics, or even just within the sense of social status it seems to me that we encourage them even perhaps push them to always be the best. We might even tell them "they are the best", "they are the smartest", etc. Many of them probably begin to believe this before they have any sort of way of testing the validity of such statements in any way. One of the biggest dangers to all of this is that when they do face some sort of measuring stick they may be unprepared to deal with the reality that (1) they may not be best or smartest and, (2) they may not have the tools or the mindset to improve upon these endeavors.
The nature of competition itself is to best others, to be a winner. And what I have recognized time and time again as a 24 year youth sports coach is that we as a society are all too eager to get our kids into competition. I, myself, am a very competitive person and think that competition can be healthy. But, I also believe that the real challenge is not to be THE BEST but to be MY BEST. From this we can develop in our selves and in our children a better way of life the way of consistent and constant improvement. With this correct mindset we can even view others that we may compete against along the way not just as opponents but as co competitors that are needed to help propel each other towards true success. When we fail to think in this way, it is very easy to get caught up especially in the social media age to try and keep up with others. As this happens, what is really occurring is we are training ourselves to judge others and to judge ourselves in comparison to others. This ends up being a waste of time and energy in the pursuit of maximizing our own potential. Furthermore, being overly aware of others distracts us of our self-awareness. We will be better served to redirect our time, talent and treasures towards self-improvement rather than direct comparison. To improve oneself, one must know oneself. And it will be difficult to know thyself if you are constantly just observing others.
The truth of the matter is if we wake up every morning with an attitude of gratitude, a thankfulness for the opportunity of a new day in which we can strive to become the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly become then this is half the battle. If we are focused on being better today than who we were yesterday everyday of our lives then it really does not matter who else we may find ourselves competing against. If we can then redirect our competitive nature to develop a super hard work ethic with consistency and constancy then true success can be had over our greatest opponent. Oh yeah, that opponent was indeed found under that towel, for under that towel he held a mirror.
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