Competition can keep quality high and people engaged in their work, but too much competition can kill creativity. When the goal of competition is winning, and when one party not only has to win, but enjoy the other side’s loss, competition becomes bullying.
I’ve seen some ugly competition in my life. Managers pitting employees against each other for a raise, a better office, or an emotional boost. What started as a friendly game ends up as a cut-throat attack, ending with anger, bitterness, or a new job.
Yesterday, I saw the ultimate irony–competitive yoga. No kidding. The competition involved the difficulty of poses and how long you could hold them. Yoga, or at least the yoga I take, is diametrically opposed to competition. It is a way to bring energy into yourself, to release stress, to challenge only yourself to achieve small victories that also feel physically good.
What’s next–taking steroids to win the yoga competition? I think the whole competitive sports push has gone too far. And I’m saying it right before the Super Bowl, too. Here’s an idea–divide sports into two competitions–those for people who take drugs and steroids and a competition for those who don’t. That will let the pumped up, champing at the bit players have their day, and the lower-key athletes who want to pit their challenges largely around their own skills and drills have a place to compete against others like them.
And for heaven’s sake, if you are interested in competitive yoga, stay away from my mat. I’m meditating, and that, at least for now, is not yet competitive.