Competition…the other “C”

I am competitive – a blessing and a curse.

The compulsion to compete – to win – to be right – to be the best is so ingrained in me that sometimes I lose sight of what winning, being right and being the best actually means.

When I got my first Cane Corso, Gandhi, I wanted the best of the best – a breedable show dog. He was going to win every competition, every show, and be in, um, uh…demand. I spent a lot of time and money pursuing that goal.

Gandhi had different plans. He hated the show ring. He didn’t like strangers touching him, disliked crowds, and had horrible social anxiety. For all of his beauty – inside and out –showing him was heartbreaking and, ultimately because of his temperament, he was not considered breedable.

I was not very good at the whole show thing either. I know how to be a good handler. In fact, I can teach others exactly how to train, prepare and present a dog for show…I just suck at doing it myself.

I soldiered on, and forced Gandhi to soldier on. He earned two titles in one of the rare breed circuits. I have the certificates to prove it.

I won.

Only it was empty because neither of us had fun.

When I got Acheron, I wanted a breedable show dog. From a conformation perspective, Ach is pretty close to perfect (I am a little biased). His temperament is stable and he is socially tolerant. He has been trained for show (with a friend who is a great handler) and I know that he would blow the doors off of just about any Cane out there in the ring.

He has never been in a show.

When he was two, I had his hips x-rayed. He has hip dysplasia and is not breedable. There are only two good reasons to show your dog – to breed and/or because the dog loves it. If Ach loved the ring, I would have put him on the circuit, for the fun of the sport. He didn’t love it. He was OK with it. He would have done it. He would have been great at it. He didn’t love it. Winning would not have mattered because we would not have had the kind of fun you should have when you are winning.

Winning isn’t winning if winning isn’t fun.

In the early days of LDI, we took on deals we shouldn’t have. We took them on because I knew that I could figure out how to make them a win – I could figure out that one way to mitigate that one risk and make the deal perfect. It rarely ended well. And the process of not ending well was never fun. I won the deal. Go me. The cost was high.

About a month ago, I was talking to my sales guy about a deal he was working on. It’s a really small deal (even for us). I told him to keep it simple – the size of the deal did not warrant an in depth financial analysis (and he is an in-depth financial analysis kind of guy). I finally said “Look, the only way it makes sense is if it’s fun – the industry and the business owner…the underwriting criteria is whether or not you want to hang out with the owner and have a beer”. When the sputtering stopped, I explained “fun deal”. A fun deal doesn’t mean ignoring warning flags, or throwing out good sense…it means that sometimes the win is in the fun…not the dollars.

So, yes, I am competitive. Competition drives most things in the world. There just came a time when my definition changed. I am still driven – obsessively so. I still compete – usually with myself. I still like to win – I simply learned that “at any cost” usually means the cost is too high. Because ultimately…

Winning isn’t winning if winning isn’t fun.

In life.

In factoring.

With dogs.