Competing to Win and Ambition

I had this realization when playing badminton today. I swear if you want to get to know yourself better and have your own ongoing revealing personal development program, play badminton. It is amazing. It lets you know what’s going on in your life based on how you’re playing. I did this talk with another great badminton player about all the wonderful things that happened in our lives from badminton, including being able to see a lot about what is going on personally. It’s not just that you get to see things, you get to apply all these principles you have maybe just read or heard about in a safe context – a badminton match.


Today, I asked to play singles with an extremely well-trained player in badminton. I always have a philosophy to play really strong badminton, however one thing I noticed was my drive to win has been completely absent. I just sought to always play my best game, but since I haven’t been competing, I just didn’t have a drive to win. I had a drive to do well and exercise, but not this strong focus on every shot being engineered for my success.

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine who is a full-time photographer. I interact with a lot of photographers, and I always have this little jealousy – I know it’s hard and a lot of work to be a full time photographer who is not only doing wedding photos, but oh I so wish I pursued my artistic passion as my career path as well! Aside from telling me I’ll be doing it soon, he told me the most important factor is your ambition. And I was like – oh right! Of course!

I somehow have forgotten about this little (BIG) thing called ambition since leaving a lot of my thought-so dreams. Many dreams that were cancelled from the separation I experienced, or from the jobs I worked not turning out to be positive experiences. It’s not that I completely gave up on them, they just kind of went on backburner mode as I frantically tried to support OPDs – other people’s dreams.

And along with my dreams being quiet was the part of me who is a truly competitive, ambitious badminton player. That ambition to always win regardless of what goes on on the other side of the court and regardless of the end result – that’s the ambition you need in every single match. The opponent may tell you things but you’re fully focused on yourself and your own game. He or she may do something funny but you’re completely focused on yourself and your own game. ALL 100% of your energy is on yourself and what you’re doing – the shots you’re placing, the game you’re playing, the player you’re being. Maybe it’s because I’m not at that high, professional competitive level, but I venture to say that focus on yourself all you need as a “game plan strategy” in badminton, no matter what your opponent is doing. Because experience and intuitive awareness from matches will build the strategy. And sometimes I find strategy not reliable. I was taught so much strategy – if the person is tall do this, short do that, strong do this, stout do that. What a waste of time and energy now that I look back, compared to just placing all of your focus and energy on your own game. Of course it helps and you can win with it, but what’s the point of strategy if you’re not a powerful player already, filled with your own vision and your own ambition and drive to win.

So what happened in my game, I played better than I have in the past 8 years. Maybe in my entire career. With zero training and spares singles games. And I had this realization like what if I approached my entire life in this way? I’ve been knowing I’ve been wasting time regretting some decisions, and trying to forget about that regret. But dropping it and moving on hasn’t shown me to be the answer either. What if I became devoted to my spiritual discipline and practice with this level of ambition? What if no matter what I have to do tomorrow in my job, like it or not, that I just focused on myself anyways? I can see that being a challenge with person after person to interact with in an office situation, but hey – what works in badminton works in real life.

Who do I choose to be then? And what would be different – what would I choose to be different in my life if I apply this?

I’ve been recently coming to a lot of lessons on letting go of pride and choosing to be courageous in that – more posts to come on that.

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