This weekend I’m taking part in the “Funniest Comedian in the Heartland” competition in Lowell, Arkansas at a comedy club called The Grove. I hope to win because I hate losing. But what I hate even more is living with the regret of not trying to win first place in the first place. See what I did? Then I always have to wonder…how would I have done and what would I have learned had I simply tried?
As a professional speaker and performer I have been a part of many competitions. I’ve won some and lost some. Sometimes I’m surprised I placed at all. My biggest loss was when I auditioned for America’s Got Talent in 2014 and did not move on to the next round. Long story short: Mel B X’d me, Howie and Howard said no, and only Heidi voted in favor of me. It was crushing; however, I would do it again in a heartbeat because of the lessons learned. Don’t bother searching for my AGT spot on YouTube. It never aired.
Maybe you don’t take part in competitions that have an audition process, prize money, celebrity judges, television exposure or your own show in Vegas, but we are all competitors to one degree or another. So many things you do daily have that competition vibe. You might compete against debt, unhealthy habits, broken relationships, or against other people fighting for that prospective client you’ve had your eye on. Jerks.
Do you have a healthy competitive mindset? What holds you back from “entering” the competitions of life and pursuing your dreams: Fear? Not feeling ready? Others’ discouragement? Well, perhaps it’s high time to go for the gold.
Here are my 9 Competition Concepts for Champions:
1 JUST DO IT
Nike has it right. Just do it. In my first magic competition people told me, “Maybe you should just watch a contest first and see how these things are done.” Nah. I just went for it, and I got first runner up (which sounds way more impressive than “second place”). If you’re waiting until you’re 100% ready you’ll never do it. Just jump in and do it baby.
You can’t expect to win if you are depending on luck. To prep for this upcoming comedy competition I’ve been going to several open mics just to get additional stage time in order to polish some bits. Get your reps in. Do your research. However it looks for your situation – prepare.
3 AIM TO WIN
Expect to win. Act like you are going to win. Imagine yourself in that victorious situation. See yourself standing on that first place pedestal, wearing that gold medal, receiving that promotion, winning back that relationship, fitting into those pants again. Go for broke — with your goal, not your pants.
4 DON’T VIEW FAILURE AS A LOSS
As I mentioned, I hate losing. It hurts. It’s disappointing. It’s no fun. But in the long run, losing is how I learn and grow. And I try to remember this: the opposite of success is not failure. The opposite of success is quitting. My journey to juggling a soccer ball 11,241 times in a row without dropping the ball (I need to get a life) was achieved because of the millions of times over the years that I DID drop the ball. In other words, failure was an absolute necessary part of my journey. If you want to succeed, you must be willing to “drop the ball” repeatedly. Failure gets you closer to your goal. “Failure” is not a dead end, it’s just a fork in the road of your longer journey. In your times of failure, may the forks be with you.
5 FIND SUPPORT
Find a cheerleader. Hire a coach. Get help. Surround yourself with people who love you, believe in you and will encourage you no matter the outcome. Likewise, avoid the naysayers. Tell your supporters your goals so they know how to help and keep you accountable.
6 HAVE FUN
Fun is usually the first thing to go once my competitive nature kicks in. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes I focus so much on winning that it consumes all of my time, energy and thoughts. Loosen up. You don’t have to do everything perfectly. Have fun!
No matter what happens, celebrate. Even if you are simply celebrating the fact that you were brave enough to try something new or difficult. I remember after a piano competition in high school where I got first place, our family went to a Mexican Restaurant (my favorite) to celebrate. My mom asked me, “How does it feel to be done with that? Is it a relief?” I said, “Not really. Now I just have to worry about the next big thing.” I hadn’t yet learned the lesson of stopping, taking a breath and enjoying the moment. Remember to stop, reflect, and live for the present after taking on such a big endeavor. I celebrate by eating out, watching a movie, or taking a walk. I’m a pretty exciting dude.
8 LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES, AND VICTORIES, AND TRY AGAIN
What did you do right? What did you do wrong? What did you learn for next time? If you don’t ask yourself these questions, you’re not taking full advantage of your experience. Use this information to empower your next go around. And be sure that you do give it another go around. Never stop competing. If I ever get another chance to go on AGT will I take it ? You better believe it. Even though it would mean another chance of failing? For sure. I would love another shot. Besides, I wouldn’t want to miss out on another chance to learn and grow.
9 HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
This is so important for those times you “fail.” Remember to laugh at yourself. Tell people the story of what happened. It will heal you and help bring a healthy perspective to your situation. Because I talk about it in my “Come Fail Away” keynote, I have now told the America’s Got Talent story dozens of times. Each time it makes me feel better. It’s like the crowd is my therapist. There is so much to laugh at in tough situations if we look for it. For example, when Mel B X’d me and asked what I want from America’s Got Talent, I said, “I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.” Remember to laugh. It’ll “spice” things up!
So…what kinds of competitions are before you? Maybe you’re competing with old diet habits and you need to skip that next big chocolate chip cookie. Or maybe you’re competing with other realtors for that nice big listing in that gated community. Perhaps you’re competing with laziness so you can write your book. Whatever competition looks like for you, keep these 9 concepts in mind.
The more times you try something, the more likely you are to succeed. But the more you try the more likely you also are to fail. When you lose, you not only learn, you get thicker skin to ready yourself for more “failures.” Own the failures. Experience more of them. Learn to appreciate them. They are badges of honor. Competition is often more about the journey than it is the outcome. Go for it. Have fun. Don’t let fear or others keep you from living your dreams. And wish me luck this weekend. But even if I don’t win “The Funniest Comedian in the Heartland,” I’m going to learn a lot and have a great time!