How strong is your competitive spirit? Do you enjoy the thrill of victory? Do you agonize over defeat?
Competition can be good. It pushes us to go farther than we would on our own. It encourages us to improve.
But, it can also cause us to shut down, to give up, to stop trying. We see the competition, realize there is no way we could ever win, and think, “Why bother?”
I have several issues with competition in the traditional sense. The first problem with competition is that it involves rules. These rules are often arbitrary and typically based on what has already been done. They leave little room for true innovation.
The second problem is that competition is relative – relative to others and relative to that set of rules.
Combining these problems, my main issue with competitions is that they do not necessarily measure what is important.
Have you ever seen the Harlem Globetrotters? Great fun, isn’t it?
Who won? I’m betting you have no idea. And I’m betting you don’t care. Because the final score was not the point.
You won’t see the Harlem Globetrotters in the NBA playoffs. But, that doesn’t stop them from filling arenas.
Is winning your only measure of success? Being in it to win it is good. It forces us to take it more seriously, to work harder.
However, especially with a competition where the winner is selected by a panel of judges, winning is often subjective. Those judges may not be the ultimate target (consumer) of whatever it is that you are doing.
Who is on your panel of judges? Who are you allowing to determine whether what you are doing is good enough to win the prize?
As a performing artist, the only measure that matters to me is the connection with this audience, right here, right now. Did this audience have fun? Were they entertained? Did they laugh? Are they leaving the event in a better state of mind than when they arrived? Do they have a renewed sense of hope?
That is how I measure the success of what I do.
What is your measure of success? Look to the right judges.