How competitive can one person be (and still make it out alive)?

At work, we’ve instituted a new system for tracking to-do’s which has had the unfortunate side effect of me wondering how to create a 25-hour day.

“You are the most competitive person I know,” my friend Naomi has told me. Several times. Repeatedly. I can’t remember all the details, but once, it had something to do with a concealed weapons permit. You’ll have to ask her.

I am known to yell “I win!” during such times as:

  • Opening my car door first.
  • Getting my shoes on first.
  • Eating my cookie first.
  • Finding a passage in the Bible first.
  • Naming a song on the radio first.
  • Sitting on the couch first.

Most of the time  friends look at me and tell me they didn’t know it was a competition.

Fools. Everything is a competition. Unless I lose. Then it wasn’t.

I had to create an add-on deck of cards for when I play “The Settlers of Catan” just to keep myself calm. They say things like “It’s just a game” and “mom still loves you even if you lose”, helping to call me down whenever I turn them over during a time of game-playing crisis. I have had an emotional crisis over a game of dominoes.

So we started with this new to-do system in which each of us has a different color Post-It note assigned to us. We write our to-dos on them during our Monday staff meeting, then take them back to our desk. We are to get them done during the week, and we’ll review our progress each day. Whatever isn’t done is brought back in for Monday morning staff meeting to reassess the state of the project, put back on the board, and huge amounts of shame occur.

For me at least. Shame is a huge motivator for a perfectionist.

I had barely sat down to begin working towards completion of one of my tasks when a co-worker slapped a completed colored Post-It note on the Wall Of Finished Duties.

“Finished this one!” he said.

My head detached itself from my neck and fell to the floor.

About an hour later he did it again.

I collapsed internally and regressed to sucking my thumb.

Another co-worker put a note up. Three notes, two colors, none mine.

“I can’t take it!” I said. “I have to get a note up there!”

“Just pick some low-hanging fruit and get something done,” one helpfully suggested.

“Look at my tasks,” I grumped. “They have things like ‘write a book’ and ‘write a different book’!”

I could not have imagined myself in a to-do list competition, but all it took was the visualization of colored notes on a wall. If we’d all had the same color, it wouldn’t have worked. I can’t explain it.

That, and the fear of Monday Morning Shame which, as a Minnesota Vikings fan, I’m somewhat used to.

4 responses

  1. Huh. I don’t remember the “I win” thing. I think it’s funny. I would have liked it. Why were you withholding something funny about yourself from me? Not cool, Neidlinger.

    Are you also a poor winner? I’ve played with your type.

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