Hey! I’m Chris Phang from F5S in SST and I would like to share the spirit of competition which I've obtained from my prior experiences of competing in dozens of national and international tournaments. This is shared so that you can discover the keys to bring your A-game to anything you do, on and off the field.
Recently, I managed to finish 1st for a Microsoft Word competition nationwide, earning the chance to travel to Orlando, Florida to compete with the world’s best in the Microsoft Office Specialist World Championships. Looking back, it is an understatement to say that I had the best time of my life there. Getting to visit the United States for the first time was definitely an enriching experience, and getting to meet so many exceptional people ( including Martin Garrix’s graphic designer ) was absolutely amazing. It is also through this trip that I managed to analyse every competitor’s approach to competition to bring the best possible outcome of the competition to their benefit.
Competition, first and foremost, is a double-edged sword. It brings out the best and worst in all participants. The instinct to compete is very much part of human nature. To start off, we must understand the two attitudes towards competition – one leading to poor sportsmanship, cheap shots and vulgarity; the other leading to top notch performances and clean, ethical play. True competitions are tests to push each other to their maximum limit and out of their comfort zone, to achieve unparalleled excellence. Thereby lies the question, what are the keys to competing well?
Define Success in different ways
There is a winner and a loser, one celebrating the fruits of his/her labour, one licking his wounds and pondering what went wrong. To overcome this, we have to define success as broadly as possible. Having yourself envisioning success by coming in first or second in a particular competition is a very narrow scope of measuring true accomplishment. To narrow it down, try focusing on aspects that can contribute to self-improvement, such as having a personal-best time. In this Microsoft Word competition, I never set any defined targets such as striving to finish among the top 10 participants in the world. Instead, I set my main goal to better my personal-best time of 13 minutes by hoping to break the 10-minute mark in the competition. By having a handful of specific, achievable goals every time you compete, every competition, whether you win or lose, becomes a much more enriching experience.
Focus on the task, not the outcome
Throughout the competition, stress is definitely present. Competitions are situations of high-stakes that we naturally want to go our way. However, focusing more about the actual process of competing than the outcome will lead you to enjoy a more favourable outcome. By putting your attention on what’s in front of you – interacting with other competitors, conducting calming breathing exercises, taking it one question at a time – you detract yourself from the outcome of the whole thing, which would significantly reduce your likelihood of being totally overwhelmed by the prospect of what if the situation doesn’t as how you would like it to be. To sum it up, too much emphasis on the goal takes people out of the task at hand. Because of that, your pleasure and enjoyment in doing that particular activity will be significantly reduced. Focus on the process and enjoyment, even when enormous pressure is present; to bring out the best in yourself.
Here is one aspect that I can relate to in a lot of instances: resilience. Now, when your table tennis partner starts getting better than you, there is potential for boiling tension in which you might become frustrated about your own inability to improve or the fact you are not working hard enough, you would stop sparring with him. It is important to remember however, that there is also potential that you might become even more motivated to improve your own game and start off a domino effect, making you both push to table tennis wizardry. Do not be easily downhearted after having a bad series of results. Instead, stay cool in the face of competition and never buckle under pressure. Always view your opponent as an inspiration – not an obstacle or enemy – to show you what’s possible and an opportunity for further self-improvement. Cultivate a sense of healthy competition by always acknowledging your opponent when they outperform you and try to learn their techniques and improve your own game.
I hope this brief article can inspire some of you to not be afraid of competition, but embrace competition instead. Take competition as a golden opportunity for growth and development. In many ways, a competition can be life’s ultimate proving ground: to strike a balance between your skills for a particular activity and to remain compassionate, open-minded and level-headed in a situation that is easily combustible. If you have managed to master that, then you have truly understood the spirit of competition.
If you would like to contact me personally, feel free to drop me a message at:
and I would be more than happy to engage in a conversation with you! Until then, see you!