January 14, 2020
by Allison Iantosca
So, deep down, I’m competitive. And impatient. Competitive and impatient. I’ve been working on myself though– seeking to be present and trusting that I am not in control of whatever Fate might have in store for me. All this to say, I am very familiar with the nagging in my gut that pulls at me when presented with an opportunity that might, somehow, put me in a position to be ahead. But I don’t really care for it. I don’t like the automatic separation competitiveness creates—a me against you. A winner or a loser. Power. Fear.
Of course one could point out plenty of societal examples of the positivity of this mindset– unprecedented fantastic feats or broken records– but it still seems only fueled by adrenalin and singularity and loses track of the common good. Glory for one only means diminishment for all the rest. I don’t know if we can transcend this as a society if I can’t individually tamp down my inherent competitive instincts…but there might be hope.
For starters, let’s imagine what this could look like. Everybody somehow wins (I mean this in a hardcore way– helicopter parenting need not apply). The competition itself drives a collective greatness. Competitors are the best of friends. Yelling and jumping up and down is expected as a way to fuel the competitive fires which everyone is want to do for the preceding reasons. Ego has no place. Generosity rules the day.
Wait! Stay with me. What could happen? Isn’t it possible that sometimes you’re on top and sometimes you’re not but you always get something of value? Isn’t it possible that the more you give from a platform of generosity the more others will give? Isn’t it possible that when a competitor is a friend it only makes you want her to succeed as you succeed? And she of you? Might we not do better, more meaningful work? Wouldn’t we simply then expect it of ourselves and of each other? Couldn’t we beat records and deliver unprecedented fantastic feats?
Easier said than done I suppose. But here is where coaching can provide a platform to explore this kind of possibility. Because coaching asks of your willingness to experiment.
Are you willing to diminish ego and elevate generosity? Minimize power plays and maximize work that speaks to your whole self? Coaching is provocative and wants to know what it would take for you to move from the polarity of competition to the opposite polarity of equanimity and the platitudes of the spectrum in between. Coaching wants to explore the multiple realities that surround, you breaking down assumptions and toying with habit patterns that have somehow been empowered to direct your life. Competitiveness; perhaps an overused behavior that actually no longer serves you. And who would you be without it? Who could you be? Are you willing to discover the answer?
It seems to me that we want so much from the world and we want the world to expect a lot from us. Maybe that’s my competitive nature piping up again…But it seems worth a little exploration. Allison Iantosca is a Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) trained coach with extensive leadership and management experience. She is an Executive Coach and is the Owner and President of Boston based FH Perry Buil