The theme of the month within the Everyday Marksman community is, “Sharpening the Edge.” I gave a short explanation of what I meant by that within the community itself, but I wanted to expand on some of my thoughts with a dedicated podcast episode. The simple truth is that this applies to you whether you’re a member of our little posse or not.
Before I get going, I’ll throw a quick hat tip to the work of Brett and Kate McKay at The Art of Manliness for assembling a lot of these resources together. I’ve followed their work for years, and it’s been a true inspiration.
- Russ Miller in Episode 8
- Jeff Gurwitch in Episode 24
- Mike Keenan in Episode 26
- The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida
- Social Facilitation and Norman Triplett
Life is full of competition. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, all of life is a giant competition for resources and reproduction. Entire species either prosper or go extinct on the macro level due to their collective abilities to compete in an ever-changing environment.
Nations, businesses, and people operate in a similar way. And so should you.
When I was in the military, my entire career felt like one long continuous competition with my peers. We, quite literally, competing over diminishing spots and opportunities to progress. The point spread between “winners” and “losers” was very narrow.
You could say that I have a love/hate relationship with competition. While I fully realize that a lot of the skills that I talk about here at The Everyday Marksman are individually-focused, I also realize that there’s a lot to be said about working within a group.
So what does working well with groups have to do with competition? Well, in a way…everything.
At its heart, participation in a competition is a form of teamwork. Think about it, good sportsmanship means agreeing to follow a set of rules and then having the honor to obey those rules together.
I can hear the internet commandos already, though. “If you ain’t cheating in a gunfight then you ain’t trying to win.”
Fair point…you got me there.
But we aren’t in a gunfight every day. And the scientific truth is that competition makes us better. Going back more than 100 years, study after study shows that performing a task in front of an audience improves personal performance. Performing a task in the same location as someone else doing the same thing even more so.
I notice this myself when I go to the gym. If it’s empty and I’m the only one around, I’ll do OK. But as soon as I know someone else in also in the weight room lifting, and maybe even doing the same exercises I am, then I work just a little bit harder.
Of course, there’s a balancing act to having a healthy amount of competition. Winning at all costs comes at the price of honor. But not trying at all results in stunted growth. So we have to compete, and we should do it in just about every aspect of our lives.
A contest doesn’t necessarily mean conflict.
So here’s the ask for you and every other member of the community this month: find at least one other person, or even a group of people, and set up a friendly contest. Work to grow and become better, and you may even surprise yourself.