How Competitive Are You?

By Laurie Stroupe

I spent over 14 weeks in Peru in 1989-1990. It was an amazing experience and I learned to love the Peruvian people, their culture, and their beautiful dialect. Peruvians are a wonderful, artistic people who especially love children. They are descended from Europeans (especially German), los Indio’s (who descended from the Incas), and the Japanese. Although virtually every Peruvian has Indian ancestors, to have a European ancestry is often a matter of pride. It’s a curious attitude often held that “my” shade of skin is white (whatever that shade happens to be), but that anyone darker is Indian.

I wonder if we have a similar attitude operating in rabbits. Not with skin color, of course, but with competitiveness. Something like, “Whatever my level of competitiveness is, it’s okay, but anyone more competitive is excessive.” Since we can only really deal with our own competitiveness, it’s is only important to ask ourselves whether our own level is excessive. Perhaps we fault people for a level of competitiveness that should be acceptable in a hobby with a large competition component.

There are people who can enjoy rabbits for years on end without being really competitive. Perhaps they enjoy serving on committees or organizing shows. Maybe they like the travel or maybe their long-term goals are to become a registrar and then a judge. It’s great that people can enjoy raising and showing rabbits without the need to be competitive at all. But I hope those people will not condemn those who enjoy the challenge of the competition, and the satisfaction and the acknowledgement of success.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are some who are too competitive. They can suck the life out of a show or even a region. Legitimate concerns are labeled as “petty” or “jealousy.” Sure they consider showing rabbits to be about fun and friendship, but they are most concerned with their fun and limit their friendship to a precious few.

I can’t say exactly where the happy medium lies. But I do think that a periodic internal check-up could help. I know that I am personally due for an internal tune-up. So here is a little exercise we can do together to help us think a little more about competitiveness and decide who we want to be in the future.

Below are some statements concerning competitiveness. Decide whether the statement illustrates excessive competitiveness or an overly negative view of legitimate competitiveness. And then decide whether the statement applies to you. I’ll be doing the same.

    * I do not want successful breeders to sell good rabbits to the competitors in my local area

    * If my rabbits do not win, there is usually a reason such as a poor Holland judge or someone bought a great rabbit at Convention

    * I only feel joy in other people’s wins if those people are my closest friends

    * I only have a successful show if I win BIS or at least BOB

    * Anyone who cares whether or not they win is too competitive for me

    * I can use any means to win as long as no one can accuse me of breaking a rule – if others want to win, they can just do the same things

    * I get angry when I lose

    * I try to get superintendents to choose judges who choose my rabbits

    * It is not my concern whether other people can enjoy the competition

    * I sell my best rabbits outside of my local area of competition

    * I send my rabbits to local and regional shows that I cannot or do not want to attend

    * It is equally important to breed the best rabbits I can and to keep good rabbits out of the hands of my competitors

    * I would rather send a rabbit to be processed or pet it out than allow others to benefit from my hard work

    * Sweepstakes points have no meaning at all and anyone who cares about them is obviously overly competitive

    * I spend too much of my family’s income on rabbits

    * I only go to shows if I can win

    * I keep my methods secret – they are my edge in winning

    * I enjoy seeing certain people lose

There’s no scoring guide for the statements. The benefit of the list is equal to the level of honesty we evaluate the statements with, the amount of thought that we put into them, and any change in behavior you and I make.