From my first match to my last, competiton evokes excitement, fear, enthusiasm, jittery nerves, spitfire tenacity and, foremost, the drive to do my best. At every competition, the rules and judges and reasons for disqualifications mark the beginning of every event, whether local, state or national levels, whether PPC, IPSC or IDPA matches fired. Knowing the rules sets the stage for strong match performance in conjunction with practicing. Of course, no matter how much I would practice- timing, cadence, breathing, trigger control, stance, breathing, sight alignment, breathing- I could still manage to screw up at a match. That is the nature of the game. But, when my performance did not meet my expectations, I could always find out why, I could always analyze my scores shot and my targets fired on. Sometimes, even, someone had been watching me and could offer feedback on that level. Taking in all these facets regarding where I placed in a match helped me consider each next practice, each next match. I always wanted to meet and beat my previous performances.
Sometimes, filled with anxiety and frustration, always doing my best to navigate competitions with grace and aplomb, I have taken all these competitive experiences to a new arena: public speaking. I have mentioned before my involvement in my ToastMasters Club. This past month, I have engaged in club, area and division level competition. I could not resist! But, to my dismay no identifiable rules clarified how the the judges made their decisions. When all was done and said, I placed second this past weekend and have no idea why. I do not know wherein lay my flaws or where I need to improve. I do not know what the first place speaker’s performance held that allowed for first place. So, am I a poor sport for wanting to quit? Am I a whiner? Should I know it is time to take a break and rethink my goals? I think quitting is not a part of who I am. But, sometimes, just sometimes, we need to step back, take a break, BREATHE and reassess our stance. Then, getting back into the competitive arena can, once again, make sense. We compete not to be the best, but to become our own personal best.