Emerson said “life belongs to those with the most energy.” In this past week I spent everyday with a large group of 5-12 year old skier’s. Believe me it was exhausting, but very well worth the effort. Spending time with, and observing, this group helped me confirm my feelings about being human, and specifically how being human translates into athletic competition.
I am sure there are behavior professionals who could poke a million holes in my observations but, it seems to me when you’re a 5 year old human, and competing with your piers, you exhibit very little in taught behaviors, and have almost zero gender bias. You give little thought to the rules, and what is fair. You have a singular fearless focus, and very little in the way of outside distraction. You just want to win, or prove you are the best. You will totally disregard any fact that will not support your assumption that you are the best, and you will constantly seek the smallest affirmation. These conditions seem to be built in to us as humans. I recognize them in my adult friends, and myself, when we are doing anything competitive, whether its playing video games, doing a triathlon, or running.
Yes, yes, yes I know that society, our parents, and teachers have all spent endless hours teaching us that we need to exhibit self control over our competitive self, be fair, that things can hurt you, and you should listen to coach. We should however, recognize that just because we are controlling something does not mean that it no longer exists, and selective application of certain traits leads us to be the competitors that we are. Self interest, fearlessness, limited distraction and understanding the rules helps us all become better at what we do, weather its running or being corporate.
I believe I now understand a little better why some of my team mates act as they do. As for myself, I think I will now feel a little less guilty, or stupid, when I have pressed a rule, or risked my health by pushing past my own perceived limits, or selfishly push towards the front of the group to see my name in the results. I’m just going to chalk it up to being human. Now, all I need is a warm bath in Epsom salts.