As The Derailleur at Terry Bicycles, my job is to be your “Life’s Coach”. As a Performance Coach for your mind, I am reminded time and time again about the social comparison theory that my clients allow to rattle around in their minds. The social comparison theory sounds like, “She is so much better than me at that…his life is perfect…why can’t I be more like them.” We compare ourselves to those who we feel are better, stronger or appear to have the perfect life. In other words, we compete.
While comparison and competition are good things when they offer us awareness around where we are in our journey, we too often use comparison and competition for the wrong reasons, especially around things we cannot change. For example, I am 5’4” in height, a fireplug in stature and have bone straight hair. I will never be 5’10”, or rail thin, and will never have Julia Roberts’ hair. But I admire the beauty in all of those characteristics as long as I remember to admire the beauty in having all of my qualities. I don’t want to compete with anyone anymore…then why do I race my bike weekend after weekend? What am I trying to prove? What am I seeking by competing?
The book, “Flow” by Mihaly CsikszentmihalyIt reminds us that the word “competition” came from the two Latin words “con petire,” which meant, “to search together.” The idea was that the best way to find out how good our skills were was to match them against the skills of another person. The point of competition was not to beat someone else, but to search out the best in yourself. Well that is a perspective change on competition!
So perhaps instead of competing to beat others, we all can become competitors who are in search of the best in ourselves. Many cyclists don’t ride to compete, but with this new perspective, doesn’t it make sense to go out and take on that century ride or your local 2-day fundraiser ride? But be sure to focus on the “why” you are competing and not the “who” you are trying to beat.
Added bonus: PDF of the book “Flow”