I’ve always been a competitive person.
This personality trait started very early. Growing up in Brooklyn, NY in a house with ten very different personalities lends itself to competing for everything.
I had to compete for bathroom time. My nuclear family lived in a tiny four room apartment on the top floor of my grandmother’s house. There was only one very small bathroom. Looking back, I now feel for my father because he was the only male fighting for the bathroom against three females: my mother, my sister and myself.
Without knowing I was dealing with a spastic colon, my mantra was I NEED TO USE THE BATHROOM!
Every day I competed to get onto the subway to get to school or work.
I learned to just deal with these realities of my life.
Part of that reality was learning that I live in a culture where competition is alive and well. We compete in and for everything – JOBS. PROMOTIONS. SPORTS. SCHOOL. ETC.
I admit I like to win. Who doesn’t?
The question becomes WINNING AT WHAT COST?
I believe competition can be healthy. It causes us to set goals and go after a dream, whatever that may be.
One of the key elements of competing is preparing and training. I marvel at Olympic athletes who dedicate themselves to training for years to ready themselves for their dream of Olympic gold. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes commitment. It takes passion. It takes a dream.
After working full-time and going to school at night to get my M.B.A, I needed to do something for fun. For three years I had no life. I discovered Ballroom and Latin dancing. I’ve always loved to dance. This became my creative outlet. I got so hooked, I even competed.
Did I win? YES! Did I lose? YES! Win or lose I competed because I loved to dance. I competed for me. I enjoyed it. For me, it was a healthy release of stress and a fun way to stay in shape.
In my career, I competed to get ahead. Hence, the M.B.A. I recognized I needed that sheepskin to get into marketing; and I did.
Once on the job, I needed to measure the competition to be able to succeed in the marketplace.
There was a time I was a Director of Marketing on a line of cosmetics when news broke that two skin care competitors were moving into the world of color cosmetics.
It was necessary to study the competition and their marketing methods over the years. I oversaw a competitive analysis which enabled the development of a proactive marketing plan to thwart their efforts. It worked.
I believe this is good competition. Know your opponent. Know their strengths and weaknesses and compete with shrewdness, wisdom and, most of all, integrity.
I’ve always believed that hard work and positive performance results were the keys to getting ahead in corporate. I was so naïve!
I was very successful in building businesses and launching products. However, I was a poor student in managing the minefield of corporate politics.
I didn’t pay attention to that knot in my stomach when I was left out of meetings or when people stopped talking when I came into view. Instead of educating myself in how to deal with all of it, I just dug deeper into my work.
Personally, I feel this kind of competition is driven by insecurity and even jealousy. In life, we win some. We lose some. I’ve often wondered, “Can one really feel good about themselves if they undermine someone else to get ahead?” I want to believe the answer is no. Yet, I do believe we reap what we sow!
Becoming more cognizant of how to manage my work environment would have helped; but I like to think maybe I wasn’t naïve. Maybe I just have an ethical moral compass that guides my decisions and actions.
As I have pursued my dream of acting, I’ve been confronted with another level of competition.
The entertainment industry is so extremely competitive that one must develop a strong backbone to withstand all the rejection.
There is so much competition to be a working actor. There are 160,000 SAG-Aftra actors and over 2,500 actors can be submitted to audition for one role.
Actors are often minimized for their career choice and often take on survival jobs just to be able to pursue their dreams. Many try to carve out a niche in this industry. Many give up.
My acting teacher often says, “Acting is simple, but it’s hard”. Yes, it is on so many levels! It takes training. It takes perseverance. It takes commitment. It takes courage. It takes laying it out there every day for the possibility of landing a role.
With that, comes those willing to sabotage another to get noticed.
I once had an audition for the TV show Parenthood. I was prepared. I did my work and was ready for my audition.
As I was sitting in the waiting room, another actor came up to me and started talking. This is a ploy to unnerve a fellow actor auditioning for the same role.
He asked me, “Is this a comedy or a drama?” I realized what he was doing and said, “It depends on your perspective.” He then asked, “is this a half hour or an hour show?” I thought "Seriously!" I said, “You should have watched it.” Then, I cut him off and said, “I don’t want to talk to you. I’m preparing for my audition.” He just looked at me, walked away and started to do the same thing to another actor.
The joy out of this scenario is I BOOKED THE ROLE!
COMPETE WITH HONOR
Competition is part of life. We will always have a choice as to how we compete.
How much sweeter it is when we achieve our dreams because we competed from a place of honor and integrity.
No matter where you are in your journey, remember…it’s never too late to go after your dreams!