Competition is an inevitable fact of life. From playing sports to seeking a new job, we’ve all found ourselves at one time or another at the starting line, looking nervously around us to see who are rivals are. Then we measure ourselves against them, weighing their merits against our own.
When you’re competing for a new job, the decision about who will win depends on the credentials you’ve built up and, of course, how well you do in the interview. But the decision is ultimately out of your hands. If you get the job, that’s great. If not, you have to assume the other person was more qualified. (Here’s a little secret: that job wasn’t right for you anyway!)
But if you’re competing in a sport, particularly an individual sport, the competition is all about you: how well you perform. Whether you’re running a marathon or driving a fast car around a track, you have to draw on your own strength, stamina, and willpower to succeed. Getting to the finish line depends on your ability to perform under pressure. With luck and effort, you just might win.
The truth is, in any competition, your ability to win has a lot to do with the people in your past. As you sit nervously waiting for your interview, you’re really not alone. People who’ve taught you lessons on the road of life—your parents, mentors, former employers who’ve shared a thing or two about being successful—all those people are sitting in the chair with you, ready to help you as you navigate your way through the interview. In fact, they’re there at other times, too. They’re part of who you are, who you’ve become.
Athletes also have coaches and mentors who lead them through rigorous workouts, pushing them to their limits, supporting them through the tough times, and celebrating the wins. When an athlete heads out onto the playing field or stands at the starting line, she’s not alone. In her shadow are all the words of encouragement from all the people who have helped her make it to this point.