A friend asked what it has been like to step back from athletic competition. Much of what follows applied when I left jobs, peers or habits – any of which might not have fit my life anymore.
The immediate impact is usually relief and a realization of the unnecessary cost my choices where imposing. Quite often, the relief is followed by sadness at leaving old habits, even negative ones.
In terms of “what’s it like” to compete less – it’s exactly the same, just less fatigue and soreness. All my “issues” follow me wherever I go!
What is available is an opportunity to look at the impact of a competitive, or corporate, lifestyle.
I often cloak a selfish reality with talk of benefits outside myself. Shareholder value, national prestige, competing on an international stage, earning money for my children… these little lies are repeated until they become my reality.
Fooling myself isn’t necessarily a problem. I spent my teens and twenties solely focused on my personal outcome. It worked at the time.
In my 30s, I broadened my circle to help other people assist with achieving my personal outcome. It still worked for me.
That lifestyle was a form of greed – more more more.
With a spouse and kids, the lies have to increase to justify continuing the choices of my youth.
Long-term competition isn’t a problem. The problem is the thinking that results from turning away from my spouse, my kids, my family and my community.
We tell ourselves that we will change when we have X, or achieve Y, or become Z.
What I’ve done is tell myself…
I’m going to look directly at my flaws, a diseased friend, a homeless beggar, a hysterical child or a demented hospice patient.
Whatever it is that scares me. I’ll look at it.
I’m going to acknowledge that I can’t fix the situation but I’ll try to do something small to make life better.
Working towards overcoming the difficulties of my inner life is similar to the pleasure of overcoming others through competition.
The reward is just as sweet and others do not pay a price for my success.
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