A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lauren and Rob Hudson: Positive message for youth about exceptionalism through competition

Columns for families based on the book “It Can Be Done” @studentsleadusa

What can be wrong with having a competitive spirit? We should want to win and be the best, shouldn’t we? Some people think this way, but others don’t like competition, mainly because it can often feel more peaceful and comfortable not to compete.

It’s easy to say we want everybody to be happy and win, but with competition, somebody will be disappointed. It could be us or it could be one of our friends. This might seem like a pretty good reason not to embrace competition.

Here’s the problem with shying away from competition. We must compete at many things, even if we don’t particularly like competing. For example, we will compete against other people to get the job we want. Furthermore, if we own a business, we will compete against other businesses to stay in business.

If we’re going to be competing, and we will, why not embrace competition and strive to win? Somebody out there competing against us will want to win and they’ll be trying to do what it takes to achieve their goal. They may like us and they may be nice to us, but if it’s a competition, chances are they will want to beat us.

Although nobody wins all the time, we should embrace competition as a normal part of life to get a bit of a head start. We know we must compete, which means we will prepare for it. Instead of backing down or apologizing, we know we will often need to work hard and be smart to win. President John F. Kennedy declared, “Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.”

Competition helps make us better. We become smarter. We innovate to win. We distinguish ourselves to avoid being defeated. Know that as we compete – win or lose- we prepare ourselves for life and we move forward. As Olympic Gold Medalist Mia Hamm said, “A winner is that person who gets up one more time than she is knocked down.”

Anybody who’s ever been in an academic contest, tried out for a role in the school play, or participated in sports knows all about competition. Competition is a necessary motivator in our lives because if we were guaranteed victory and success, we probably wouldn’t try our best. Every time we prepare and try, we improve each step of the way.

Competition is not just about our most recent personal challenge. Competition is all around us. Our community, state, and country must compete with other communities, states and countries for jobs to get companies to locate there.

Areas of competition for communities, states, and countries include things like regulation, taxation, transportation, water and sewers, educational systems, environment, and many more. The best places for businesses, which includes the best places to attract talent, get the best jobs, while other places don’t. That’s competition.

Embracing competition helped make America exceptional. To remain exceptional, we won’t have the luxury of backing down or shying away from competition, just like the nations competing against us for success won’t be backing down.

By competing effectively, we can make America the best place to live, have fun, and do business. Our future jobs, successes, and exceptionalism will depend on it.

Join us next week when we explore the common ground of patriotism. Frost Brown Todd LLC Member Rob Hudson is a Past Chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber and a recipient of its Frontiersman Award. 2018 Independent Author of the Year Lauren Hudson is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky.

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