My friend Bill and his wife were both showing horses in a Texas competition, one of their many friendly rivalries. Although Bill had one of the best performances of his career, to his surprise he failed to place even in the top ten. His wife, on the other hand, was named champion after what he felt was an ordinary ride. He withstood her good-natured ribbing until he had had enough.
Turning to his mental man-cave by escaping into a book, he picked up Fairly Certain, only to land in the middle of the discussion on competition.
Awestruck by the coincidence of finding the exact words he needed at the exact time he needed them, he highlighted the passage. The next time we talked, he told me this story and read me the passage I wrote in Chapter 39: Understanding Competition. Here, Petir says to Maid Rianne:
I understand enough about competition to know the only one you really compete against is yourself. When or lose, you have to ask yourself, “Did I do better this time than I have ever done before?” Who cares if you win against a bush-league opponent if you played your worst? Where’s the honor in that?
But if you achieve your personal best, who cares if you lose? You have no control over who shows up to compete. You only have control over who you bring to compete.
It was an incredible moment for me…in fact, the perfect moment to steal a line from the movie classic , When Harry Met Sally (1989).
“No one has ever quoted me back to me before.”