At a time when we hear more and more talking about cooperation, how should we look at competition? Is it positive or negative? Vector of progress or dangerous? Modern or outdated?
The truth is that there is competition and competition. It can be as virtuous as destructive depending on our intentions and our behavior.
Here are some ideas on the subject, inspired in particular by my practice of judo from an early age. Principles that find their application in all areas of life where competition, confrontation are applying: sport, business, politics, justice, social relations, just to name a few.
THE VIRTUES OF COMPETITION
Competition can prove to be a great engine for optimizing our potential. It boosts our energy by mobilizing it. It also requires us to sharpen our physical, mental, emotional, professional and technical qualities. Qualities of power, courage, intelligence, self-control. Or even cohesion (when teams oppose), concentration, adaptation, resilience.
Nature is a place of permanent competition for living beings. Everyone fights for their own survival as an individual and as a species, more or less helped by their place in the food chain … The fight for survival takes many forms and is an inherent part of the ‘existence. Denying it, in a form of angelism, puts us at the mercy of those who know how to take advantage of it. Let’s not give them this pleasure!
Human beings have in particular that they can overcome their instincts. Choose wisely between the different options available to them. And above all, adopt a thoughtful, elegant and dignified course of action. A certain conception of the « peaceful warrior », in reference to the famous book by Dan Millman.
IN THE ABSENCE OF FRAMEWORK AND RULES, THE COMPETITION QUICKLY BECOMES « MURDERY »
At the forefront of these rules is RESPECT. Respect as it is taught (or should be taught) in the dojos. Respect as an expression of maturity. Because man is so made that if he ignores this essential notion of respect, then his desire to win by all means immediately takes over. The results are generally not very glorious, even disastrous. And winning in the short term in no way prejudges that this will be the case in the long term. The backlashes are sometimes violent, it is better to keep it in mind … Balance requires!
In sports, I saw it when I was young, on a tatami mat during a competition. A judoka successively broke the collarbone of two of his opponents. The first one is for an accident. The second proves it was for sure a deliberate and malicious gesture. As it should be, the unfair player was excluded from the competition on the spot. Breaking the « Code of Honor » …
From sports to politics or business, there is only one step.
AN ETHICAL AND POSITIVE APPROACH OF COMPETITION
Many people are not comfortable with the idea of competition, sometimes from an early age. By rejection, or simply by lack of interest. Others, on the contrary, see life only in terms of competition. It’s unique to everyone’s nature and it’s like that, without having to argue about it.
What is discussed, however, is how to approach competition.
And in this case, it is the question of FAIR-PLAY which arises and which, unfortunately, is often lacking.
Most of us have in mind the caricature (sometimes very real, unfortunately) portrayed in the film « Karate Kid » with competitors ready to do anything to win. Worse, they do it on the instructions of their instructor! One of the most stupid versions of the human being without a doubt …
Competition is positive provided that it pushes us to our own overtaking. In strict compliance with the framework and the values that ensure everyone’s safety. It is first of all a date with yourself. Self facing his impulses and his ego which is the only real enemy. The ego, which, as Eckhart Tollé puts it so well, « needs problems, conflicts and enemies to reinforce the feeling of division on which his identity depends. «
The opposing person or team is not our enemy. She is our rival, which is different. A rival pushes us to mobilize all our resources to give everything we have, to constantly improve our skills, to push the limits.
To « magnify our own potentials » to paraphrase Claude ONESTA, coach and manager of the (men’s) French handball team that I once had the pleasure of hosting during an Aikido Management session. Facing healthy is then a virtuous process that is emulation. And a game!
In this respect, the historical duality which opposed in the 80s the Japanese judokas Yamashita (the benchmark and the elder in the heavyweight category) and Saito (his challenger) is a perfect illustration of this. To keep one, the other to claim the title of world and Olympic champion, both had to give their best over the years. A mixture of distrust, fierce determination to win. But also, of immense mutual respect that has only grown over time. There are many examples of the same type.
Others, in competition, help us find the best version of ourselves if we know how to put ethics at the heart of our practice. This is the absolute condition for a good exercise in competition.
Any other competitive approach is gradually leading us to our annihilation as individuals. It is certainly not efficient in the end and even less noble. It is up to us to become aware of this as soon as possible and to choose our posture.
FROM JUDO TO AIKIDO …
Aikido, the « way of harmonizing energies », differs from judo in particular by a different approach to competition. The latter is, in a way, « neutralized ». And this by going out of duality to definitively break the traditional win-lose spiral that characterizes any competition…