When I was at high school, I was a member of the girls’ rounders team. Not unusual in any way, except for the fact I was quite simply rubbish at it. I couldn’t catch properly, as that meant keeping my eyes open and not ducking, and, I couldn’t do an over-arm throw that would go beyond a few feet. When I was put on the team, I was appalled believing that there had to be some kind of mistake. My wise gym teacher simply informed me I was a member because I enjoyed it and that no matter how poor a player I was, I always had fun. This was my first taste of competitive fun.
Doing something just because you have fun can often get lost on an adult as we strive for perfection and making the grade. How often are we driven to succeed, to not miss out, to be a part of a team, to experience or to simply not fail (again); all in the name of positive experience? And at what cost? It seems to me that if we are not in competition with someone else, then we are competing with ourselves. Years ago I joined a contemporary dance class for a term, knowing full well that I had more enthusiasm than talent. There came a point when I realised that I was out of my depth and couldn’t keep up with the others. My head went into overdrive about how inept I was, how naïve I was to even join, and what sheer cheek to keep turning up week after week! Yet my body knew I was having fun, in fact my fellow dancers used to comment on how wide my smile was when I danced. What I realised was that when I made having fun the goal for dancing then I could willingly compete and even win!
In coaching there is a need for people to find ways to stretch themselves and to find their own way of competing; to both win and at times to fail. Yet I’m reminded how much more powerful competitive fun is for personal growth and well being. Research shows us that successful and positive people are more active in having fun compared with depressed, distressed and dysfunctional people. We also know how fun and laughter releases natural endorphins into our bodies to make us feel not only relaxed, but euphoric. We can easily accept the concept of children giving something new a go, yet we can stop ourselves from even contemplating trying something different. We’ve heard the well-worn phrase ‘how do you know it won’t be fun, until you try it’; but never expect it to be addressed to ourselves.
Take a moment to reflect on the following:
- If you were to try something out this month what would you do?
- If you could do something where no-one was watching, again what would you do?
- And finally, if you could introduce competitive fun into an existing activity or commitment, what differences could you imagine?
Maybe like me you’ll discover that taking part isn’t what matters, it’s having fun that counts. Until next time, have lots of fun!