The Simple Philosophies of Life, Part VII – Competition

Posted on Aug 15, 2016 in Articles | 0 comments


I will admit, I am competitive. I just love to push myself in as many ways possible and stare down the challenge. I try to overcome the fear of failing each and every day. My friends don’t think I am a Type-A, they think I am a Type Double-A. I am competitive in sports; in business; and mostly with myself. I am in it to win.

Early on in my life, I was fortunate to have two strong role models in my life: my father and my high school baseball coach. My father taught me to be a strong, confident individual that holds himself accountable for his actions, efforts and his own success. He stressed it over and over and would always say “if you want to make it in life, you need to own your life”. It is not by happen chance that I have owned my own company for over a decade. My biggest competition is against myself.  Can I land another account? Can I deliver excellent results for my clients? Can I survive on my own? My father taught me to be competitive with myself in order to make the changes to my life that I wanted. Nobody else is in charge of me. Or my life.

My high school baseball coach presented competition in a slightly different fashion. Long before it was en vogue “for every kid to win a trophy”, my coach summed up his straight-forward message to his team with a simple sign that hung over his desk: “First is First, Second is Nothing”. No trophies here for simply trying. Never once were we allowed to shortcut our path to success. We had to run harder, faster, longer than the other teams. We had three-a-days in the spring (that’s three practices a day). We had seven defensive bunt plays when an opponent squared around at the plate to sacrifice. He was a disciplinarian machine and taught me that the only way to compete at the highest level is to out think, out work and out plan your opponent. I can’t thank him enough for the drive that he instilled in me and it is still present today. I am constantly looking to make my life better and try to excel at changing environments.

Competition can be a very good driving motivator in life. In my opinion, taking shortcuts or the easy path – which is not always the correct path – leaves opportunity on the sidelines. Over the years and through the mentorship of two strong men in my life, I have been able to allow my competitive spirit to be my guiding light while I walk into the abyss.

Web-John Matthews

John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., a strategic planning, operations and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries.  With more than 25 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at