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  • Writer's pictureSiria Contreras

And the Winner Is...

I don’t compete.

It’s true, I rarely participate in competitions of any sort.

Not professionally, not in my personal life, and in the past very rarely academically.

Being competitive is not in my nature. In fact, for me personally, I imagine that expending energy to compete with anyone or anything else ultimately would distract me from what I’m trying to accomplish. If we both end up at the same destination that

I’m heading towards, amazing!

But, I’m not going to race you there.

I’m not afraid of losing. I’m just not wired that way. If you need the motivation of a healthy challenge or contest, by all means follow your arrow. This lack of the competitive gene also aligns with my desire to win wars and not battles, my focus on creating solutions instead of problems, and my focus on long-term and scalability versus small short-term wins or band-aids.

Sure, I played sports when I was younger. Even in that space, I only did it until I stopped having fun or in actuality, until I became too busy with other things that I enjoyed doing more. When I was in elementary school and high school, I was also constantly enlisted, often signed-up before anyone had even checked to see if I was interested in participating, in academic competitions--from spelling bees, to math teams (I can assure you that I was not that great at math), to academic decathlons, art competitions, writing contests. If I was winning in one area, surely that would translate over into the others, right?

The ones that were individual competitions were easier to begin to say no to, but those that were team-based were sometimes harder and like I said, I was often just added to a team without anyone asking me if I wanted to participate. I actually don’t hold any resentment for that, I enjoyed some of it and thankfully as someone who loves to continuously learn I didn’t mind some of it as it gave me reasons to explore certain subjects further, but I am really glad that I also have since a young age had a great social life and more than my fair share of fun to balance out the side of me that sometimes just wants to stay home and read a book or not see anyone for a few days.

This all comes back to recent conversations. The first one involved someone asking me if I ever felt pressured to perform while working at big-name entertainment companies who while I was there were #1 networks. My response was that with very few exceptions I honestly didn’t. Of course there were KPIs and goals to hit, but to be honest some of the areas that I headed up were still a bit unknown and I was defining them real-time. However, there was a time when my boss at the time did try to in a sense try to pit me against another person heading up another department who reported into someone else, mostly because he wanted to retain control of a certain product. I definitely had to navigate that in a different manner than all of the other areas I managed. Yet, I still never really fell into the trappings of competition.

Professionally, I’ve for the most part always felt confident in my ideas and my output, and my ability to make my own ideas different enough from anyone else’s for there to be no need to compete. Of course, there will always be a competitive landscape to assess and we’d be remiss if we didn’t research it and take it into consideration, but for me competition is neither a deterrer nor a motivator. When I’m creating, it rarely exists.

Sure, I had a desire to keep these entities successful and in their pole position, but it was also because I was invested in what we were creating.

The second conversation was with someone who I’ve known for a long time who was feeling jealous and competitive and a bit woeful as to where they currently were in their lives.

They spent half of the conversation relaying to me the victories of others, when I finally had to interject and ask them why they were so focused on the achievements of others instead of focusing on moving themselves forward (in nicer words). They snapped back at me and told me that “it was easy for me to ask that, because I’d always had praise and recognition.”

I allowed them to continue and it turned into a much longer conversation than I first imagined this would be, but I allowed them to get all of that out of their system as I knew that it wasn’t about me or what I had or hadn’t accomplished in my life, if you know me at all you know that I actually do care very little about recognition, awards, etc. as I don’t start anything out hoping to get rewarded for it.

If I cared, I would likely have actively pursued and acquired a lot more recognition in a more public form. However, I am genuinely happy for others who work hard and are recognized with these things. I think it’s completely fine to aspire to these things, as I said we’re all built differently and I don’t deem someone a narcissist for wanting to be highly-laureled or respected in whatever field they choose. I’ll respect them so long as they put the work in. For myself, however, that is never my motivator.

My motivation likely consists of two halves, one half that comes more from solving problems, challenges, and making a positive impact. The other half is likely from expressing my creativity--a muscle I exercise in many areas, not just the artistic.

This long discussion took many twists and turns from the professional to the personal, which just like in the professional sense, I likely would also never compete for anyone’s love. The type of person I would engage in any form of relationship with would know what and who they want in a relationship so I would not be put in that situation to begin with and if I were, then I would know that this probably is not the right person for me.

I did break down for my friend that although I don’t willingly participate in competitions, that of course we’re put in various forms of competition constantly--we compete for jobs, homes we want to purchase, etc, etc. Yet, there is such a thing as healthy competition (sports to a certain degree) versus toxic competition (the kind that involves envy as a driver).

I’ll continue to say it likely for the rest of 2021 and perhaps beyond depending on the state of the world, what is needed right now isn’t really competition as much as it is collaboration. Yet, again recognizing that we’re not all the same I also know that at this moment we also need productivity and innovation and sometimes it’s that healthy dose of competition that will spark the genius or at the very least expedite it. You know yourself better than anyone else and whatever your motivation, my hope is that you’ll use it for good instead of having it use you.


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