1. This is one of my favorite examples. I am in Amsterdam, using my typical strategy of not booking any hotel room, and just assuming I can show up in a city and find a place to stay without any problem. Little did I know that it was some obscure European holiday and everyone in the world wanted to go to Amsterdam. There was basically nothing. I found this ridiculous place with a tiny room that looked like a prison cell and had a bathroom down the hall that cost 130 euros per night. Of course being the free spirit that I am, I have no problem with the room, but there's no way I'm taking a deal like that without scouring the city a bit first. I wanted to walk around anyway and couldn't believe that there wouldn't be something much better.
Lo and behold, I found nothing else, so I went back to the hotel and of course the room was taken by this point. Time for plan B! I went to the Internet Cafe and scoured CouchSurfing, but the city was obviously in high demand and I wasn't having much luck. Then I found a guy who was clearly a serious chess player, somewhere around the expert level. There is no way that this guy can resist me, given that I'm an International Master...right? So I took a stab at it, and bingo, it worked out. I ended up meeting him at a square with a giant chess board, at which point we went to a local cafe/bar type place where people generally played chess. What a lucky guy I am, from homeless to having a place to stay just like that!
At this cafe there was an International Master named Manuel Bosboom, supposedly a legend in Amsterdam and well known for beating Kasparov in a blitz game. We played blitz for a while...maybe 2 hours or so, while my host watched. I'm pretty sure I was up a few games but I don't remember the score, but my competitiveness requires me to state the fact that I'm pretty sure that I won. Anyway....after this I asked my host if he wanted to play a few games, and he said yes.
So I am significantly higher rated than my host, but he is certainly strong enough to beat me in a given blitz game, and it looked like this would be the game! We were playing 5 minute chess, and I was getting totally shellacked, and on top of that I was also down on time...maybe I had like 15 seconds to his minute. Of course the idea of losing this game was abhorrent to me, so I turned into psycho asshole blitz Greg, in which I make every move instantly in as menacing a way as possible. Basically when you are playing someone much stronger than you and they start behaving this way, it's psychologically very difficult to deal with, especially if you are not a blitz specialist. In the end he was completely winning on the board, but I think his flag fell when I had one second left. He declined to play again because he was too shaken up by the first game.
So what's the point here? The point is "Greg do you really need to win one stupid blitz game against a guy who is generously offering his home to you, SO MUCH, that you have to pull out every trick in the book in a completely hopeless position?" This is one time when I should have just pulled back, realized I'd been outplayed, and not gone completely psychotic trying to win. I am not suggesting that I should throw the game, but there is a limit to the lengths that I had to go to win this game that I clearly deserved to lose. But what can I do, I'm naturally psycho, it's very hard to turn that part of me off, hopefully I'll do a better job in the future. I am intentionally omitting my host's name, but he was a super nice guy and I am very thankful for his hospitality. Also he certainly should have won that game.
When else does is being competitive a stupid idea?
2. Everyone's competitive spirit/ego kills them when dating. Instead of just accepting a loss when someone isn't obviously interested, people need to somehow win and get that person interested. Never happened in the history of dating. I could go into excruciating detail, but everyone probably knows what I'm talking about from personal experience here. Just accept your defeat and try and date one of the other thousands of available men/women in your area.
3. This one is a more of a current challenge that I'm dealing with. Lately while Crossfitting I've found it best to tone down my competitiveness. Why you may ask? Well I started to get competitive (in my own mind), with some athletes at my gym that I just don't have any business trying to compete with on a regular basis just yet. It makes sense to try to compete with people, but not if it's going to make you feel crappy (because you can't beat them and there's no way it's going to change overnight).
The best way to actually compete with someone who is better than you is simple. Be patient and then keep working on whatever it is you are doing for a long time. When I'm outclassed, there is no reason why I should suddenly expect to be able to lift more weight faster than someone who is stronger than me. There's no reason I should wake up one morning and magically be able to run faster than someone who is faster than me. There's no reason I should suddenly not get less winded than someone who has better conditioning than me (my conditioning sucks).
So due to repeatedly having worse performances than some people, I've just stopped caring about how my score compares to other people. It's completely obvious they are better than me at the majority of Crossfit related exercises. I just do the best that I can, try to slowly get better throughout time, and accept the fact that they are getting better too, and sometimes it seems they are getting better at a much faster rate than me, and therefore no matter how much better I get, they may just constantly beat me. I DON'T CARE ANYMORE!!! I am in the best shape I've been in my life. I am still getting better each day....the progress is much more slow than before, but I can see that it's still there. So...I WIN!!
If I beat my own personal time or improve in some way, that's enough for me. The other people doing the workout at the same time as you can be a bit of a distraction because once they start to pull away from me, it's like I've felt myself losing a little bit of drive and motivation, because at the beginning of the workout when I was ahead of them it's like "yeaah I'm winning, I'm gonna win, this is so awesome!!", and then it becomes "oh damn, I'm gonna lose.,....now what am I even doing this for?". This happens to me a lot because I do tend to lose steam later in workouts, but often start out very fast. So I try to block it out as much as possible now and just try my best. I think the ideal is to have some healthy balance of competitiveness and not caring at all and hopefully I can find that place.
It was a few months of constantly being frustrated that I couldn't keep up with some people, but that's just the way it is in life sometimes and I'm very happy to have changed my mindset and become more humble*. Also going into each workout with a more humble attitude and not expecting to beat other people seems to make me happier, and it doesn't seem to negatively affect my performance at all. Now it's just a pleasant surprise on those times that I see that I have a score that is similar to some of the big champions of our gym.
Also there is further hope for the future. While I certainly try to crush my girlfriend Ronna every time we play word games on the Ipad (Wordament/Scramble with Friends etc), I secretly get proud of her those times that she beats me.
* - My version of humble is probably still completely obnoxious.
PS - Today my team of burpee'ers was in first place as of 8 am by 39 BURPEES!!! NO ONE WILL CATCH UP TO US!!!
PSS - Yesterday I had the second best score of the day as of 330 pm at Crossfit. So I'm not the worst ever!!!!!!!