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Competitive Paradox

Most people find fulfillment out of mastering challenging things. People like to become experts.

The video below goes into motivation and mastering things and is worth a watch at some point in your life -- you don't have to watch it now. However, the things I'm about to talk about tie-in nicely with it.

There is this natural drive to become good at things and people being people leads us very quickly to conflict. "I'm going to be the best Falco player." "No, I am!" "Well, let's play to see who's better." And both players will train like crazy just to one-up the other. You can apply this same scenario to any other activity.

There is a hidden danger here with this competitive mindset that not many people talk about. Sure, becoming the best out of your competition and seeing your name at the top of a list (hopefully with a fist full of prize money) is the end state you're after no matter how you look at things. But the mindset behind how, and why, you get there is not talked about.

I could go into the danger of comparing yourself to others, but this post about Why You Should Stop Comparing Yourself to Others hits the nail on the head. It goes over all of the same things I would have.

You should go read it now!

There are 3 stages of the competitive mindset that people typically go through:

  1. If I win, then I'm doing good. If I lose, then I'm bad.
  2. Every match is an opportunity to learn and get better to improve my standings.
  3. Every match is an opportunity to learn and get better to improve myself.

Stage 1 is your typical entry-level competitor. They are so focused on winning that it is the only thing that matters to them. They get down on themselves, hard, when they lose. They may practice a lot and review their losses, but the backing purpose is solely to get their name higher up on the list and they get all of their enjoyment out of beating other competitors.

Most competitors quickly realize the error in tying self-worth to results and they start to shift their viewpoint to stage 2.

Stage 2 is where the vast majority of competitors in the world are and will stay. They view every match as a learning experience. They can, win or lose, always find something they did wrong and do what they need to do to work on it or find the resources to do so. This is a subtle but important difference between stages 1 and 2. Of course they'll be down if they lose, but that loss still serves as an opportunity to grow. However, they are still comparing themselves to others. They want to be higher on the list, they want their ranking to go up and they use that ranking to judge their progress.

While this seems to be a fair metric to measure against, it leads to an unhealthy mindset that I call the "Competitive Paradox". You want to win, so obviously the way to measure your progress is how close you are to winning /s. If you want to move to stage 3, you must agree that this is the incorrect way to measure your progress.

Stage 3 is where most top competitors sit. The key difference between stages 2 and 3 is the distinction of how they measure progress. Stage 2 measures using competitive standings, aka the competitive paradox. Stage 3 measures progress by using self improvement and measurable goals. They turn all focus inward to themselves.

Note that the "end state" for all 3 of these stages is to win and be at the top of the list (with a fist full of prize money). It's how they get there that differs.

2 key things you probably noticed. We have an "End State" and we have "Measurable Goals".

Yes, they are both blog posts and I'm assuming you're awesome and read them. Consider the below the why behind those 2 very important concepts.

When your end state and goals are in place, it becomes natural and intuitive to make the switch from measuring with your win/loss ratio, tournament standings, GSP, and any other measure that you use against other competitors and your list of measurable goals.

If you want or need help with it, ask about it in our Discord server.

Do it for your own health and sanity or you will get burned out by trying to chase the strongest competitors in the world.

Stick to the plan and, over time, the results will follow.