Are you a competitive person? I am. It’s hard-wired, and not entirely a bad thing. It pushes me to work hard, to try things no one else has done before. I’m not ashamed to admit, I like winning. Winning is fun!

However, That feature (plus my fear of public embarrassment), contributes significantly to my ring nerves. Of course, there is more to it than that. But the general feeling that I am being judged against other people (both by the official judge, but also myself and other spectators) is a big part of why I will usually visit the restroom at least 6 times between picking up my number and running my dog. Actually, to be honest, restroom-use frequency picks up as soon as I get the judging program. But we can talk about that later.

One thing I am working hard to do, as a bit of a personal growth thing, is to treat my competitions as tools to help me improve my skill and my training. A way to become better, not as a way to prove anything to anyone. Measuring my performance against my training. My current self compared to my past self, and information to guide my future self on the path to excellence.
Scores matter, yes… but they are of limited use in shaping my training plan going forward. A high score and a blue ribbon aren’t the only ways to have a good outcome.
I am working to set progress-oriented goals:

  • This time I am going NAIL my about turn footwork
  • Smile before every cue
  • Give the correct cue for the correct exercise, and correct dog (I can tell you for a fact, that Spark will not retrieve the dumbbell if I say “fetch”. She won’t move a muscle. Her cue is “bring”. Damn you, stimulus control!)
  • Stay connected during transitions

Because I know that if I can meet those goals, that’s more than half the job right there.
It’s not easy. I’m working on it. It’s important to me, because when I let my competitive side get the better of me, I lose sight of my why’s. It’s too easy to fall into the “win at all costs” place. My personal moral hierarchy is a big part of who I am and why I do what I do. I have frequently been tempted to compromise my sense of ethics in favor of “success”. That’s not the person I want to be. Everyone has to make their own choices, and that’s ok. We are all here for different reasons, and we have to travel our own journeys. I chose to do it my way, or not at all.

But I am totally going to do it.