She’s not your competition; Day thirty one

blog headerI was somewhat dismayed in recent years to hear the story of a young woman who attended an elite girls’ school in the same city I grew up in some thirty years later.  She was intelligent and driven in all fields of life, including a passion for sport. Over her high school years she gathered a close group of friends with similar interests and abilities who vied for honours in the sporting and academic fields. This appeared healthy until they came to their graduating year and, over a relatively short period of time, the relationships started to break down. This demise paralleled the increase in the stakes of achievement both in the classroom and on the sporting field.  Perhaps, the final expression was seen in the senior year athletics carnival.

The young woman Jess (not her real name), was an outstanding athlete and expected to win the ‘champion girl’ award.  Her friend Ruth (also not her real name) was house captain and responsible for allocating competitors to the events. When the last events on the card were approaching, Ruth told Jess that she could not compete as the school had set event restrictions per competitor, which Jess duly accepted. Jess did not win champion girl because every other competitor participated in more events than she had. There were no event restrictions; Ruth had simply spiked her opportunity.

I find this story alarming, not because of the missed opportunity for Jess (everyone has disappointments and this may later in life qualify as barely memorable) but because of what the incident reveals about Ruth. Ruth did not understand two things; that competition brings out YOUR best rather than measures you against others and that celebrating the achievements of others, particularly friends, is an opportunity of great honour.

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About Penny

Penny was born in England, raised in New Zealand, lived in America and settled in Perth, Australia. Together with her husband Mark, she is raising a teenage daughter and has twin twenty-something sons. "Coming home at the end of a solid working day to family and friends is my delight" says Penny, Co-author of the book – She’s Not Your Competition. She is a heart-felt communicator who believes in the power of a person’s story. Penny has over 25 years experience as a high level leader and spokesperson in both the private and non-profit sectors with significant public relations experience. She is currently the CEO of South Coastal Women's Health Services, and prior on the Leadership Teams of Rise Network and Riverview supporting people in areas of mental health, domestic and family violence, and children overseas at risk of exploitation. She holds an MBA and MBL, and is a Board Director for the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia. For the past 15 years she has provided pro-bono support as a mentor for leaders and consultant to not for profits. Penny’s personal life endeavour is a determination to "make life better not bitter".