Wednesday, August 31, 2005

All About Competition

We all hate competition - especially those in which if we won, we don't get a prize. We hate it if younger (or older) siblings compete with us in everything. We hate it when parents make it seem like we have to compete with cousins (or their friends' children) academically or in other stuff. Why is it so? I've never truly given it a serious thought. Then again, at a glance, it could have everything to do with the fact that a person under constant competition with others could be under constant pressure to not be in the losing end.

One night, I was in a particular mood for Scrabble (ok, we don't have an actual set of Scrabble, rather, the cheaper brand of the game, called Vocable), but my husband wouldn't play with me because he had some unfinished work. And so, well, I played with myself. Yup, I did. I named myself leeyl1 and leeyl2 and proceeded until the board was full and only 5 letter tiles were left. And what I can say from the game of me against myself - it was totally enjoyable! First of all, since I know the tiles of both my 'personalities', I sort of complemented myself. 'leeyl1' didn't occupy a position which 'leeyl2' would want in her next turn, and vice-versa. One 'personality' would create a word-making opportunity for the other one whenever possible. Cool. So, the conclusion is, both leeyl1 and leeyl2 were able to place tiles and make words very smoothly, seldom taking more than 1 or 2 minutes' thinking. However, taking a closer look at the scores, I realised how poorly leeyl1 and leeyl2 did, compared to the usual leeyl playing against her husband!

Playing against myself, not wanting either part of me to lose to the other part of me, the whole game was compromised by the two sides not seriously competing with each other, even complementing each other at times. But when I play with my husband, all I have in mind is to BEAT him! I want to make longer words, better words, score higher points! And I do. In other words, I guess a little competition is a good motivation for all of us - it is simply up to us to take it from a positive point of view :)

Qualitative Research question for the day: How can a person be tuned to accept competition and benefit from its motivating powers?

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