Competitions… more than just about the ribbons

Most of us have experienced the joy and excitement of winning a ribbon or trophy at some sort of competition.  Regardless if it was a track meet, photography contest, horse show, or an award at work or school, winning usually just feels good.  A lot of us have also felt the disappointment of not earning that ribbon or trophy we so desperately wanted.  Oftentimes, we are so focused on winning, that we forget about all the other great things we learn from competing.  Let’s talk about some of the other (more important) benefits of competition besides ribbons…

Competitions can…

  1. Help you learn or master a skill: Whether that skill is public speaking, learning to stay fit, cooking, playing the violin, or whatever you are competing in, these skills can benefit you for the rest of your life
  2. Teach you to work towards a goal: Goal-setting is an important life skill that everyone can benefit from.  Competitions can help you work towards the goal you set for that competition.
  3. Learn how to function as a team: Many competitions are team-based.  It is important to learn to work together, because you will use this skill for the rest of your life… in relationships, at work, and in your hobbies, teams are everywhere!  Working with your dog or horse even helps you learn teamwork!
  4. Be fun:  Many people compete just for the fun of it.  They can help you relax, release some stress, meet new people, and try new things.  Having fun is an important part of staying happy and healthy!
  5. Teach you about sportsmanship: Learning to be a good sport when winning or losing can go a long way.  Always remember to congratulate others you are competing against and your teammates, regardless of the outcome.  Everyone has worked hard to get where they are, and lifting each other up is better for everyone.

Life Skills

A skill is a learned ability. Life Skills are those competencies that assist people in functioning well in the environments in which they live (Norman & Jordan, 1998).  Below is the Targeting Life Skills Model that 4-H uses. It shows the life skills 4-H teaches through it’s programming, and how they’re related to the 4 H’s (Head, Heart, Hands, and Heath).

Other than the skills mentioned above, competitions can teach you many life skills, depending on the competition.  At the end of the day, these life skills and experiences will be more valuable to you than all the ribbons, trophies, and certificates that may gather dust in your closet.  Learning to speak in public,  keep records, being responsible, practicing, problem-solving, and the many other life skills that 4-H  can teach you  will benefit you as you later in life.  Your 4-H ribbons may not be able to help you get into college or land you an amazing job or promotion, but the skills you learned from competing definitely can!

So next time you are competing, try to remember all of the other great things you gain from competing other than ribbons!