The Most Valuable Lesson I Learnt After 7 Years of Competitions & Hackathon
I have been blessed to be born in an environment where I could see opportunities that allowed me to become a better person, both professionally and spiritually. My parents have never been tech savvy but they recognised the importance of technology. In 2010, my neighbours were throwing out their old PC because they were buying a new one. Instead of wasting it, my Dad offered to purchase it for me and allowed me to go crazy with it. It was an old computer and my dad gave me full freedom to play with it. I was told “It is okay even if you break it, just make the most of this”
I do not own this picture. Link to original
When I was in Class 6, I started learning Photoshop, After Effects and HTML. I know it sounds absurd but I wasn’t an expert either. I was a single child with access to internet at an age where boys don’t really think about all the other stuff kids do on the internet these days. I started learning Photoshop and After Effects and by the time I reached Class 10, I got really good at it.
One day I get approached by a senior who offered to take me for an inter-school competition at DPS Vasant Kunj. My best friend Shahnil and I made a team and prepared ourselves to participate in our first competition. This was the first time I was ever outside school for an event. I usually thought that only sports had competitions, why would anyone else learn stuff like HTML at my age.
I entered and saw a thousand students at the event desk, all charged up to compete for events like Quiz, Digital Imaging, Video Editing, 3D Modelling, Hardware Design, Mechanics and what not. Shahnil and I were ready to lose because we knew these guys were senior. They all looked so tall, so bulky and so smart. We were so fresh, all tied up like perfect students. We felt like we were at Oscars, surrounded by celebrity geeks. We were at our absolute perfect behavior.
Shahnil and I standing outside the competition venue getting a picture clicked for memory
God was with us and I won in my competition. I came first in my category and I felt so proud. I came back and saw my computer teacher, Divya ma’am congratulate me. She offered me to go for IPSC IT Fest, which was an all India tech event held at Welham’s Boys School. I was instantly getting way too much attention and I was loving it. I went to Welham’s and sat in a room filled with Class 12 students and when the results came, I came first again . I thought I was going to be huge now. I was a new amateur student who had just entered as a junior and won twice back to back, beating all seniors. Everyone was praising me, seniors who were 4 years elder to me were asking when they come to learn design from me. In short, I thought I was the best.
ex-Principal, Ms. Lata Vaidyanathan of Modern School and our team with our awards from IPSC IT Fest
I came back from Welhams and eagerly waited for the next competition.
The next competition was at a very reputed school in Delhi. Everyone said it’s tough to win there but nothing intimidated me. I sat with Shahnil, made an amazing poster and as soon as the event ended, called mom and said
This is the part where I got my first lesson because I lost. I didn’t come second or third, I just lost. It was a blow to me. I had never lost before and this felt way too different from winning. It took me some time to get back and I thought “Maybe the judges didn’t understand what I made, I’ll win the next one!”
I again went for another competition, gave my best shot and.. lost again. “Wait what? How can I lose again? How am I not even coming second at these places, I am an all India IPSC winner.. how am I losing here at schools?”
The losing was hurting me more than it should. Things didn’t stop there because I lost 7 times back to back before winning a prize at a tech event.
When I was in school, I thought I win because I work hard and I lose when I don’t. I thought that our results are completely dependent on our efforts. If I used to see someone with bad grades, I used to think they don’t study. If I used to see someone lose, I used to think they are not good enough. Moreover, I used to give extra respect to people who used to win, I used to see winners are superior people. All of this changed and here is why it did.
Photo By Ross Findon on Unsplash
Now that I have done enough story telling, I’d like to share that one single lesson that I wish to reveal with everyone who is interested in going for Hackathons and International Events. This advice is not only for tech events but any sort of competition/exam/match — almost anything where results are concerned:
Winning is a result of not one but multiple reasons and circumstances. Hard work and effort is only one of those multiple reasons.
In reality, you cannot predict if you win or lose. You cannot control your result because there are invisible variables influencing your success.
You can play along with an illusion of control and hope that if you work hard you will get the best results but that is not the reality.
Photo By Ross Findon on Unsplash
wait so are you saying we shouldn’t focus on winning? that sounds extremely cliched Ansh.
uhm actually yes, stop dicussing winning all the time.
so you are saying that winning is the not that important?
Nope, winning is the most important tool to raise your game. It is very important.
wait hold on. If you say that winning is important, how do you expect us not to focus on it?
Because it is not under your control!
Then what is under our control?! You are saying winning is important but then say that don’t think about winning?
“How can we win if we don’t focus on winning”
There is a difference between only thinking about winning and focussing only on winning. If you do not think about winning you will never work. The loophole is that people do not stop at thinking about winning. They obsess over it, they make it their everything and eventually drain themseleves with anxiety and worry. I used to make the same mistake as well.
I was all about winning and beating other teams. This attitude drained me, it gave me pressure because I used to feel bad when I lost and I wanted to do everything I could to avoid that feeling.
The mindset that I practice now has competely changed me and my state of mind. It has not only helped me win more but exponentially improved my mental health, relationships and view towards life and that is:
The only thing you can control is being a strong competitor.
You can control how amazing your product is going to be. You can control how brilliantly you can play the match. You can control how dedicately you prepare for the exam. Winning a competition is temporary but becoming a strong competitor is a life long trait.
Even if you lose your match or competition, people should feel that it was difficult beating you. If I look at myself today, my aim is to be a strong competitor, not the winner.
Winning involves a lot of variables that are not in my hand. I can work very hard but some unexpected disaster or unseen mistake can spoil my chance at winning. Contrary to this you can control how strong you fight. You can control how hard you punch. You can control how quick you respond and that is all that matters.
All the major game changers in industries are not remembered for their temporary trophies or achievements. They are remembered for their caliber, for their performances and will power. Therefore it is important for us to focus on being a strong competitor rather than focussing only on winning.
It will genuinely rid you of all the negativity and anxiety you get before matches and competitions. When we focus on winning, we try to do everything it takes to win. I have seen people break friendships, take shortcuts, play unfair, behave rude, give bad advice just to win a temporary trophy — an achievement which will be rendered useless once you step out in the real world, a world where only true champions win.
I hope this article helped you and you take something good out of it. I am currently working on a project of my own, nothing too special but it is very close to my heart. I hope you all do amazing things in life and understand life as I am doing right now. It is not like I am perfect, I too fall back and get stuck in my own thoughts but we shall grow together to finally live an abudant, peaceful and successful life, a life with true meaning and satisfaction, a life so exuberant that every single second feels like bliss.