When it comes to competing, whether that be in the salon amongst team members or on a much larger scale, say entering a competition like Wella TrendVision, you experience multiple things when you do so. Your nerves may get a bit shaky, you may very well doubt yourself through the process, and you may even go into fetal position, shut down and weep for six straight hours. Competing is truly a physical, mental and emotional rollercoaster, and for many, it’s well worth it. It’s exactly why they do it.
On A Physical Level
Leading up to a competition, your body undergoes various degrees of stress—both the good kind and bad. For someone who is a more seasoned competitor, these physical waves are mere flitters and flutters, and even more of an adrenaline “rush” because once you get a taste of the competition bug, you quickly become addicted to the rush. I’ll explain why in just a moment. But if you’re a novice and new to the game, you feel more like a pile of nervous goo and less like Rocky stepping into the ring with Apollo Creed.
Now, now, newbie…it’s okay. Feeling all this is good, even if it kind of makes you feel sick to your stomach. By undergoing this type of stress, you learn how to cope and overcome it. You’re taking your physical state out of its comfort level. The more stressful situations you endure, the better because you learn how to properly handle them. Knowing how to properly wrangle your stress is a competition in itself, and when you pull it by the reigns and get it in check, it’s a blissful feeling of achievement and one that deserves a trophy of its own. And once you get past the nervousness, you move onto the adrenaline rush of competing, and that’s a feeling that is unlike any other.
Which leads me into explaining “the rush.”
It’s actually called “the winners effect” in the scientific/biology world. It’s a phrase that applies to what happens inside the brain when you win at something. Large levels of testosterone and dopamine get released into the brain, and over time, the brain structure and chemical makeup shifts and you become more confident, smarter and more open to taking on and tackling much larger challenges and obstacles than you were before. This is why people get such a rush from it because it is an actual physical rush of hormones surging through your system.
On A Mental Level
When you compete, you give your brain one hell of a good workout thanks to setting goals, developing strategies, and eventually completing those tasks you’ve assigned yourself. And since you’ve placed yourself under a microscope and have all eyes on you, you force yourself to learn and work at a faster rate and perform on a much higher level because you want to succeed. It brings forth discipline due to the necessity to follow the competition’s rules and directions. This self-discipline is a mental exercise that’s often hard for many to follow, especially those who are extremely creative (like yourself).
I have one more thing I’d like to touch on before we move onto the emotional side of it all. A hair competition is much different than let’s say competing in a game of rugby. It’s been stated that athletes compete on a 95% physical and 5% mental level. I think it safe to say and agree that those percentages can get flipped when it comes to a hairstyling competition—95% of it is mental (your skills, knowledge and creativity) and the remaining 5% if physical.
Something to think about.
On An Emotional Level
Now, I saved this one for the last because this is where you really and truly grow through the different phases of competing.
Sure it’s a thrilling ride on facing your fears, not to mention the obvious that it motivates you to put your best effort forward and boost your confidence. Think about a competition as not one that involves competing against someone else, but one that centers on the notion of competing with…you. When you get inside your own head and compete with your emotions, oh that’s when the games really begin. Competing is a personal journey; one that builds up and breaks down various types of walls and emotional states. It also helps prevent us from being cynical a-holes.
In the article, ‘The Benefits of Feeling Competitive,’ from psychologytoday.com, it is stated that “When we fail to acknowledge our competitive feelings, we are more likely to become cynical. Competitiveness is very different from cynicism. Cynicism arises when we won’t accept our competitive feelings simply for what they are.”
Another interesting emotion to touch on is overcoming the fear of failure. Allen Fox is an athlete, a psychologist and an incredibly successful entrepreneur who wrote a book titled, The Winners Mind: A Competitors Guide To Sports and Business Success. One of the best quotes you can pull from this book is this: “The unconscious fear of failure saps the will to win by distorting perceptions and causing competitors to hesitate to compete, procrastinate, lie to themselves, blame others, fail to finish tasks and panic on the verge of victory.” Don’t hesitate. Stop panicking and just go for it. Even if you don’t win the actual competition you’ve set out to, you do in fact walk away at winning something greater—coping mechanisms on how to handle failure. You can’t learn these from anyone but yourself. This is one of the reasons why it grinds my gears to see kid’s today walk away with participation awards and a trophy for just being on a team. When I was growing up, I played sports—soccer and basketball. There were no participation awards, blue ribbons for showing up or gold stars for being a member of a team. If you tried your damnedest and proved your dedication and talent on the field or court, you received recognition. If you didn’t, you received nothing. If you felt like a failure or hated the thought of not receiving any form of acknowledgment, then you soon realized that it was something you had to work for and not something that was just going to be given to you for showing up. It pushed you to be great, greater and the greatest at something you felt passionate about. This holds true for anything you do in your life. Remember that.
With all that said, entering a competition is exhilarating, often nerve-wracking and one helluva way to mess with your mind, your body and your emotional well-being. It’s not something for everyone, but it is definitely something everyone should try at least once in their life and in their career. It teaches you how to commit, it gives you resilience and grit and it helps you to develop and evolve one of the very most important qualities we should ALL possess—grace.
Go forth and win, or at least try. What have you got to lose? Nothing. You’ll gain everything if you just believe in yourself.
What competitions have you entered? Tell us in the comments section below.