Renee, Ty and I were watching Sunday’s Seahawks-Bears playoff game when Chicago struck first on a Jay Cutler-to-Greg Olson 58 yard touchdown pass on their first possession. Ty (one of our 5-year old twin sons) suddenly broke out crying and starting yelling, “No touchdown! No touchdown for Bears!” He was really upset and I tried to explain to him that it was still early in the game and there would be plenty of chances for the Seahawks to score in the game (unfortunately, there weren’t many as the ‘Hawks got waxed).
We’ve discovered that Ty has quite the competitive side of his usually laid-back personality. Now we have to manage it.
This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen Ty get upset in a competitive situation. Everyone who has played a game of Chutes and Ladders with him has learned that he does not take losing well. Actually, that’s a big understatement. He freaks out if he loses and it’s one of the very few times he ever loses his cool (since he’s usually such an easy-going boy).
You know what they say: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree sometimes. There is a part of me that has to smile a little when I see this ultra-competitive side of Ty – because I was the exact same way when I was younger. Some of my friends (and even Renee) have been a little surprised to find this out – but my family (and long-time friends) certainly know and remember this side of me.
Where did I get this competitive streak? I’m not sure. It certainly wasn’t encouraged by my parents – it just was there. I remember watching 49ers and Giants games as a kid and becoming very upset when they lost. I famously locked myself in the bathroom as a 6-year-old when the 49ers lost a playoff game to the Cowboys.
And Ty and Stone have a double dose when it comes to competitive parents. Renee is also very competitive – whether it’s coed softball, board games or golf.
Is being this competitive healthy for Ty? While I don’t like the outbursts and his strong (ahem) aversion to losing, I actually think overall it’s a good thing. The key will be to try to manage and channel it appropriately. And that’s why I think this is an important time in his young life to start getting involved in sports, so he can begin to learn about winning and losing – and how to handle each situation appropriately.
I think that being a competitive person usually helps you push yourself to constantly improve. Can this go too far? Absolutely. There are times when we need to be accepting of ourselves and all of the weaknesses that accompany our strengths. And I’ll work very hard to make sure both Ty and Stone learn that over time.
Speaking of Stone, so far I don’t see this competitive side in him. But I also think this probably is tied to his developmental delays as well. He doesn’t have the interest in games (board or video) that Ty does right now, although I expect that to change over time. But I also have a feeling that Stone will just never have that same competitive drive in him that Ty does now. We’ll see though.
So am I still ultra-competitive? Well, yes and no. I’ve definitely mellowed over the years and (fortunately) don’t get as upset if I (or my teams) lose. But I think I’ve transferred the competitiveness toward the business side of my life – especially now that I’m in agency-building mode again. I love the chase for new business, and the feeling of accomplishment that comes when we land a new client. And I hate losing business, especially when it’s a new/potential client to a competitor.
I can’t think of too many successful entrepreneurs who aren’t also ultra-competitive. It’s that drive to win – to continuously improve – that pushes you forward and keeps you ahead of the pack.
So as Ty enters the world of competitive games and sports, I know it’s a big challenge and opportunity as parents for Renee and I to help teach him how to appropriately win and lose in life.
What do you think? Is being competitive good, or do you think it’s overly emphasized in our society?
David Kaufer is a fun-loving Super Dad of 5-year-old twin sons, an insane Oregon Ducks fanatic (follow him on Twitter @DavidKaufer), advocate for green/sustainability and autism issues, and connoisseur of Northwest microbrews. He and his wife Renee moved to Edmonds in 2005 to raise their family (and enjoy the gorgeous views).