Before giving what effective competition means, I would like to demystify the terms “effective” and “competition”. Effective is used for something that causes a result and especially the desired or intended one. Something is said to be effective when it produces a favourable impression. The words like helpful, successful, good or valuable are therefore synonymous with effective.
Competition on the other hand is the process of trying to outdo others in a challenge. Contest, race, challenge can be used to mean the same. The baseline is that the parties involved are trying to outshine each other. Competition has to be between two or more parties. No one competes against themselves. Competition comes in different aspects of our lives, be it academics, economics, sports etc. Competition is the basis of the society but effective competition is the basis of life.
For the point I want to drive home, I will give an analogical illustration. A story is told of a turtle and a rabbit who had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. The turtle and the rabbit both agreed on a route and started off the race. The rabbit shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he was far ahead of the turtle, he thought he’d sit under a tree for some time and relax before continuing the race. He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The turtle plodding on overtook him and soon finished the race emerging as the undisputed champ. The rabbit woke up and realized that he’d lost the race.
The rabbit was disappointed at losing the race and he did some thinking. He realized that he’d lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax. If he had not taken things for granted, there is no way the turtle could have beaten him. So he challenged the turtle to another race. The turtle agreed. This time the rabbit went all out and ran without stopping from the start to finish. He won by several miles.
The turtle did some thinking this time, and realized that there’s no way he can beat the rabbit in a race the way it was currently formatted. He thought for a while, and challenged the rabbit to another race, but on a slightly different route. The rabbit agreed. The turtle and the rabbit started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment to be consistently fast, the rabbit took off and ran at top speed until he came to a broad river. The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river. The rabbit sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime, the turtle trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued walking and finished the race.
The story has not ended. The turtle and the rabbit, by this time, had become pretty good friends and they did some thinking together. Both realized that the last race could have been run much better. So the turtle and the rabbit decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this time. They started off, and this time the rabbit carried the turtle till the river bank. There, the turtle took over and swam across with the rabbit on his back. On the opposite bank, the rabbit again carried the turtle and they reached the finish line together. Both the turtle and the rabbit got a greater sense of satisfaction than they had earlier. That is the end of the story.
Ineffective competition normally breeds bad blood amongst some participants. So to this writing competition. Some will be happy with the outcome but others believe they were born to be winners in everything which is not the case always. There are fanatical fans of the English Premier League football who have taken their lives because their team was defeated or lost in the finals. Earlier on I mentioned that effective is producing a desirable result. If a competition is going to bring about hatred or worse results then it is as good as dropping it. But do we drop it?
Competition is good and the basis of life when it is effective. We cannot do away with what nature dictates. We see plants and weeds competing for nutrients. We can only change it for the better and make it effective. Competition is the mother of all super inventions. They have in the past been attributing to necessity which is true; I don’t dispute that but competition catalyzes splendid inventions. Competition improves production. Why all these happens is because more often than not, there is a price tag at the end of a competition. Competition makes people struggle to do better than the other party. In the process, novel means of doing something are realized.
Much for that. Effective competition incorporates integral elements which dismisses the negatives that comes along with “competition”. I want to call competition without prefix effective “competition”. The elements forms the recipe for teamwork. These include: co-operation, teamwork, core competency, playing field. Rarely do competing people help each other especially when there is a reward. One thinks, “If I help you where you are stuck, then you will outdo me.” It is probably at that point that another method of going about the challenge at hand could have been realized if the two came together. But because they are engaged in ineffective competition, they might both lose.
Creating in mind of the competitors the impression that the idea behind the competition is not to outdo each other but to help each other will make one have a big picture and a different perspective altogether. Winning together is sweeter and more rewarding than being alone in the top. It is true that all of us have different core competencies. It is also true that the playing field for all competitions is not the same always. In short, all factors will not be constant at one time. The different core competencies is to complement each other while competing. The strengths of the other might be the weaknesses of the other and the inverse is true. When these two people come together to complement each other and compete, they will all have a greater sense of satisfaction. The reward might go to the other competing group but the greatest feeling when you have lost a race or competition is the feeling of great fulfillment as opposed to resentment for the winning party.
Playing field will not always be the same. The winner in a certain race in a certain playing field will not always be the same winner in a different field. The definition of a winner we have been using in competition terms makes the whole thing ineffective. Winners’ definition should be changed to “anyone who completes the race is a winner”. The difference comes when time is effected as a considerable parameter. So all who did not finish first feel they are losers which should define those who did not finish the race. It is only that they finished later but the bottom line is that all are winners; early and later winners. I would not call them fast and slow winners because of the negative connotation that goes with the latter.
In a nut shell, the basis of effective competition is identifying core competencies and complementing each other; competing as a team that is. Everyone who finishes the race or competition, is a winner. Losers don’t finish the competition and often work singly. Competition is like a race because it come to an end, it has a starting point, bumps along the way and many are at the starting point but few at the finish line. Effective competition motivates people and produces more at the finish line. Effective competition accommodates everyone, from the early to the later winner. It recognizes the efforts of everyone. It is costly to conduct an effective competition since it always rewards winners but remember that competition is the basis of the society but effective competition is the basis of life.