Are you competitive? Is your child?
I learned about competition when I joined my neighborhood swim team when I was in elementary school. It only took one meet for me to recognize that if I was going to enjoy being on the team I needed to be competitive. The transition from not being aware of the benefits of being competitive to understanding them was quick. By the next meet, I was in it to win it. I was going to swim my fastest, I wanted to win!
My oldest son has also embraced his competitive side. He enjoys sports and is always looking to try something new to test his skills and capabilities. He is passionate about winning and struggles with defeat. I have questioned why we place such a high value on competition based on seeing the highs and lows my son has experienced, and I have in competitive situations.
I came across the documentary, I Am, several years ago thanks to Oprah. Tom Shadyac was exploring happiness after experiencing great success (winning!) but not feeling happy. He invited scientists and other subject matter experts to explore the topic with him and the output was the documentary. One idea that emerged was that the long-term survival of species (ants, for example) depended largely on cooperation. In these species cooperation is highly valued and competition has low/no value. Being a competitive ant doesn’t serve the colony well. It would in fact, be counter to a colony’s survival. Humans still have a ways to go. Our children aspire to be elite athletics, movie starts, singer or someone ‘famous.’ Competition to be number 1 is still fierce, but what if cooperation became more highly valued and easy (or easier) to achieve?
My oldest son loves Pokémon Go. It’s become something he and I have connected over. We take walks together so he can play, and I play Pokémon Go when I travel so he and I can stay connected. He asked me to take him to a local park that is known for having lots of Pokémon. When we got to the park, I was amazed. There were literally hundreds of people–mainly kids but also teens and adults, of all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds–all working together to catch Pokémon. Pokémon present themselves to you on your device, if you and other Pokémon players are in the same location, it presents the same Pokémon to all, not a select few. So instead of people fighting over who is going to catch the Pokémon, everyone has an equal chance. It then becomes a matter of what technique you use (candy, great ball, ultimate ball, etc.) to catch the Pokémon. In the park, not only were the players sharing information about where the Pokémon were that they were finding, but what techniques they were using to catch the Pokémon so others could catch them to. It was cooperation at it’s finest. Observing everyone working together was really inspiring. While I was reluctant to embrace Pokémon Go when it first launched based on some of the initial press the game was getting, I’ve become a fan. And after seeing what I did at the park, I’m an even bigger fan. If something like this game can bring people together, just think of the possibilities for the human race.
Where have you seen people working together in an unexpected place? Where have you, or your child, found cooperation outdo competition?