"I am in competition with no one. I run my own race. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone in any way, shape or form. I just aim to improve and be better than I was before. That's me...and I am FREE"
I was checking messages on Facebook this morning and came across this quote...it really struck me. In a good way. Competition isn't a bad thing...it can be the driving force behind change.
It can also bring out some not so nice things in people...jealousy, anger, all encompassing thoughts, self defeating behaviors, using things as a means to an end. Those can be summed up in one little sentence "Sportsmanship...use it, live it, BE it"...
"Sportsmanship: is an aspiration or ethos that a sport or activity will be enjoyed for its own sake, with proper consideration for fairness, ethics, respect, and a sense of fellowship with one's competitors. A sore loser refers to one who does not take defeat well, whereas a good sport means being a "good winner" as well as being a "good loser".
Notice the word "aspiration" in that definition...we aspire to be the great competitor...we do fall down sometimes, that is human nature. Making mistakes, learning from them, but picking ourselves up and trying again. I think the other part of being a good competitor is knowing and FORGIVING these slip ups in our fellow dog lovers. We ALL slip up...if you feel you never have, you will. I have many times...wanted something a LITTLE TOO MUCH...and luckily for me, it has bit me in the ass and I have learned. But I keep trying to become that person :)
Aspire to be more than you are, accept the bumps along the way, love and appreciate yourself regardless.
One of the things I have always told my students...is just what that quote states...compete against yourself, improve on your weaknesses, challenge your strengths. Judge YOU AGAINST YOU...not you against everyone else. This will cure a lot of the issues involved in competition...
I see it a LOT at the seminars I teach...people talking themselves down, comparing themselves to others...giving up, saying they can't do this or that...I am all about logic, I am all about knowing what skills I can or cannot perform. HOWEVER, negative self talk is just defeating yourself before you ever get to the line.
It is about you and your dog, against the course. Nothing more, nothing less. When I step to the line, I want to run the best for my dogs...and I am testing to see how well they run for me in new environments...with tons of different variables...ME AGAINST ME.
If we keep these things in mind...we can assess where we are in our training...if lose sight of that...then the comparing/self doubt begins. ...my dog isn't as far along as the gal who owns a litter mate, that person won because their dog didn't trip, why isn't my new puppy like my awesome older dog, why can't I handle like that person? Etc etc etc...until, left unchecked, can cause an unhealthy obsession.
Competition gets a bad wrap...for those kinds of reasons. We all want to win (even those that say they don't...they do, it's human nature!!!) But it's how we handle the losing that defines us.
I see nothing wrong with wanting to know how you stand "in the pack" or being proud of your dogs accomplishments, that's another test of training ( I like to see how the times fall between my three dogs more than anything else!!!)...but when it affects your ability to enjoy the game...to enjoy those runs with your dogs...then one needs to step back and think about how to find that joy again.
Like Miss Cleo rolling in the grass ;-) JOY :)
If we have lost it...how do we find that joy?
Stare at baby lambies...yep...that will do it! :)
STOP COMPARING...read that first quote...a MILLION times.
I always tell people...first start with not watching others run...just focus on your handling, and really put your mind into YOUR RUN WITH YOUR DOG. Think about all the good things you can do. Think about all the amazing things your dog does. Focus on those good things...
If you have a bad run (and I do this a LOT). Tell yourself, I will watch it once, to see the errors...then I will delete it. The good runs, I will watch over and over again if I wish...enjoying those moments of being connected. Those moments that I handled my dog perfectly. KEEP THOSE. Discard the bad. We do what we see and rehearse...rehearse and see the GOOD.
If you fall short of your goals...instead of putting emotion into it...be logical. Try to assess your training and handling as if you were a hired consultant...an unbiased party called in for an assessment. Make a list of pros and cons...then chip away at them with your training--checking off lists of weaknesses and transferring them to the "strength" column is very rewarding.
Recognize we are all on different journeys...some want to do the World Team, win the finals...great for them. Some want to just finish a course, and maybe get a ribbon! Great for them! Both sides need to be proud of their own journeys and appreciate each others. I've had people say to me during a seminar "Well I just want to Q at a local trial, not go to Nationals" as if I am going to look at them and say "Oh..well then, I guess you better just leave, I can't help you". They say it like they're embarrassed!!!! DON'T YOU DARE not be proud of your accomplishments...if you stop comparing yourself to others, you will realize just how far you have come in your own training. And that is what matters.
In regards to your training...stop all notions of comparing your dogs against each other. This will REALLY help you see the complete and utter awesomeness that is each dog. Again, hire yourself as a consultant...Gator is a great gamble dog, but he needs more work on turns. Lynn needs some work on her DW's, Klink needs work on collection...NON EMOTIONAL...just the facts. Don't compare how each dog is doing in regards to getting particular skills...just focus on each stage. All of my dogs are related (well not Crackers ;-) and all are different. If I compared each of them...I wouldn't be very happy. Be patient, be unconditional and be present with each dog...not the dog you WISH they would be. Because in reality...they are the dog you need.
This weekend I will go enjoy my pups...this weekend I will cheer on people, tell them what great runs they had.
And ENJOY...I'll also knit...probably say a few cuss words, tell some inappropriate stories, laugh a little too hard, smile a little too much. And whatever happens, happens. But I will be there, running against ME.