The value of coming last

I grew up thinking that if you didn’t come first, or in the top three, you lost; you were considered the loser. But, is that really the case?

I recently competed in my first international event and came last. I went into the event knowing I’d come last and that was a mindset I really fought with myself about, as I don’t like to lose. I have a competitive streak and losing is, well, losing.

Leading up to the competition I continued to train when I could, in between work, travel and a spell of sickness. This didn’t help much with my mindset, and the dread I had that it wouldn’t matter how much training I did, I was still going to be last.

Eight weeks before I was due to fly out I went on Outward Bound and man, did my mindset change! Straightaway, I started to look at the event with the same mindset I approach situations at work; this was simply an opportunity for me to push myself to another level in a whole new situation and therefore a massive opportunity for me to grow.

Once I changed my mindset, I actually started to look forward to the competition. I looked at what I’d done to even get my spot in the Wellington team and couldn’t be prouder of myself. After all, I’ve only been in the sport for a year, and am continually learning the finer details and movements and then getting my body to do what my head knows, which is definitely not as easy as it could be.

With three weeks to go to the competition something clicked and I wasn’t just telling myself I was going to experience something new, exciting and fun, I actually believed it. I stopped thinking about my placing at the end, and knew I was going to be doing something that not many others have the chance to be a part of. I also knew I would be pushing myself in each event and realised that those around me aren’t my competition, I am.

I set myself a goal and I owned it.

As a result, I had the best time!

Over two days, I sweated through five workouts with 400 others. We were all in it together – competing against ourselves, the equipment, the heat and, yeah, for some each other. In my division there was plenty of banter and friendships formed. What more could you want in a competition?

So did I come last?

On paper, yes I did and I’m good with that.

My goal was not to come last in each event and actually, I didn’t! I lifted heavier than I have ever lifted before, I worked faster, I beat the clock and I was true to myself. I’d call that a win.

The competition was the Masters League State of Origin, a crossfit competition for those getting on in years but not ability. There were about 400 competitors from predominately New Zealand and Australia as well as international competitors from the UK, USA, South Africa, Philippines and Malaysia.

Gemma Sides is the Leadership Design Manager here at Inspire Group, an international learning design provider. She develops learning experiences for leaders of varying levels, from emerging to senior, giving them the time and opportunity to discover, reflect and grow.



















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