I have a competitive streak in me. Just ask my brother.
He is three years my senior, and though we are (cough, cough) mature adults we are still competitive. It is mostly trying to make the other laugh when we talk on the phone, but isn’t that enough? Our conversations are like Comedy Central Roasts, each of us doing our best to insult the other in the most filthy, raunchy of ways.
And now you know something about me.
I’m not usually a crass individual…but I have it in me. When I’m challenged. I told you, I’m a competitive person. No, I prefer to be clean cut, clean shaven and pure of spirit. But there is a gutter. I’m a guy, it’s in the contract.
So this morning I have two thoughts to share. First, competition can bring out the best, and the worst in all of us. We’ve seen it happen. Last year, Kobe Bryant made a derogatory remark to a referee after he disagreed with a call, of a homosexual nature. Regardless of your beliefs, we should all agree that derogatory comments are counter-productive. If you don’t agree, maybe you should do a little more self reflection.
There is something about all of us that another person could make a derogatory comment about. Hair, skin, weight, job, home, hobbies…etc. The list is endless. Agree, don’t agree, I’m good either way. Just keep quiet about it unless it is causing you specific harm. A guy walking down the street wearing an “I’m with Stupid” shirt is not causing you specific harm. That guy forcing you to wear that shirt is. See the difference? Nobody wants something said about them that makes them feel bad. If you can’t say something nice…
Anyway, the point is that what anyone says can’t be unsaid. More importantly, we can’t unhear what has been said. We’ve heard it, it’s in the universe, it’s happened. There is nothing we can do about it short of a Men in Black mind-wipe.
It would be great if we could unhear things, though. I’d unhear countless rejections when I was eight by seriously cute girls in the third grade who all laughed at me when I asked them to marry me. True story.
It would be nice, but it’s not going to happen. The only thing we have that closely resembles unhearing a comment is for the other person to not have said it in the first place. You may have heard of the concept, it’s called “Preventative Thinking.” Some may call it a filter, good judgement…whatever. You get the point, which is that you and I have a responsibility to be held accountable for our actions. That includes speaking.
Which leads me to my second thought. I want you at your best. I’m a competitive person, which means I want to win. But I only want to win fair and square. And I only want to beat you if you gave 110% effort. Your best. I feel better about a win that way. It helps to reaffirm that my actions and my thinking were at their peak as well. And ultimately, correct.
You see, I don’t mind being wrong. It’s happened a time or two to all of us. I’ve found times where I felt strongly about something, only to come across someone whose engaging spirit caused me to rethink my feelings. That person was a positive thinker and a concise speaker. They put thought into their actions, and more importantly put thought into their words. I didn’t have a strong desire to unhear what they had said. I changed my mind, and now feel strongly in another manner. I encountered this person at their best.
Often times it doesn’t happen that way. I encounter people who have an opinion, and instead of engaging in a discussion they are simply interested in spamming me with their hatred and hostility. They’re not at their best, and thus I don’t feel good about the discussion. I want to unhear what they’ve said.
Let me put it into baseball terms.
I’m a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan. I’ve heard all of the jokes. I know someday we’ll win another World Series, I just have to remain positive and continue to support my team. But here’s the thing (and many “fans” may not agree), but I was happy last year when the Cardinals won the World Series. I have closely followed Albert Pujols’ career. Why on Earth would a Cubbies fan root for their arch rival?
Because I want them at their best.
If we are in the same division as the reigning Champions and we beat them, then I know, without a doubt, we were the best team. If the Cubs faced them and shut down Pujols, I know my favorite team shut down the best player in baseball. I want them at their best because I want to beat them at their best.
My brother and I know this to be true. We are nice, polite boys. Just ask our mom. When we are with her, we show respect and use appropriate language. We’re still trying to make each other laugh, challenging each other for the last word. But we are at our best by being funny, and not by saying things our mom will want to unhear.