On Competition, Winning and Being Stubborn

If you’ve been reading this blog for even five minutes, you may have gotten the impression that I am a stubborn person.

If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than that, you know I’m a very stubborn person.

You may also have gathered that I am someone who tends to care about winning — at least in the sense of getting a team win. (Winning stuff as an individual, while I’m in a team, doesn’t really matter much to me. Winning stuff individually when I’m not in a team setting, of course, is nice.)

A lot of people who play World of Warcraft are competitive and enjoy “winning”, whatever “winning” means to them. That’s fine. That’s great, even. If people didn’t enjoy winning, people wouldn’t even play this game. Every time someone tops damage or healing meters, I’m sure they’re psyched because they “won”. Every time a boss dies, people have “won”. There’s a lot of competition baked into the game and the developers leverage that personality trait of ours, the desire to win, to get us to do all kinds of things.

However, the fact that so very many of us are competitive also works against us.

Winning Isn’t Everything

Winning isn’t everything, “they” say. Whoever “they” are, “they” are right. That said, it seems silly to think that there’s no reason you shouldn’t be winning regularly in World of Warcraft, right? I mean, once you get your gear and have practiced your rotation or your role or whatever, chances are good that you ought to win in whatever you’re doing on a pretty consistent basis, right? Isn’t that what farm bosses in raids are all about, after all? I mean, you work hard to get to the point where you know what you’re doing and then you win. Consistently. (Well, hopefully.)

Winning seems to be the very point of World of Warcraft, no? Races for world-firsts, server-firsts, top of the arena rankings, best challenge mode times… the list goes on.

Wanting to “win”, though, harms the communication process a great deal. As someone who can be inordinately stubborn (whether that’s because I’m a Taurus or it’s just a character flaw I embrace because a Taurus is supposed to be stubborn, I am unsure), I had a bad habit as a guild leader, of which I absolutely had to rid myself: I had a tendency to want to win arguments.

WRONG.

So wrong.

So very, very wrong.

This is wrong on the same level as a hunter wearing cloth spirit gear and wielding two one-handed swords.

This is wrong on the same level as not moving out of the fire.

So. Very. Wrong.

Why is it wrong? you may ask.

It’s wrong because, believe it or not, you are not always right.

Sorry. It’s true. I know this because I tend to be right a good proportion of the time, and yet I can still be wrong. So if I can be wrong (and I can be!), you can be wrong, too.

Unfortunately, the problem with being “wrong” is that sometimes you don’t know it. And because you don’t always know it, you may be tempted to dig in your heels and… yes, be stubborn.

If you want to do that in real life, go ahead. I can’t say you’re going to make a ton of friends that way, but it’s your choice.

However, if you try to pull that as a guild leader, raid leader, guild officer… that’s when you’re going to have trouble.

The Needs of the Many…

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. So says Spock. And we can’t really argue with Spock, can we? (No, we can’t.)

What this post is really driving at is the concept that, if you’re in an argument with someone about guild-related stuff, you need to step back and take as objective a look as you can and try to see if what you’re doing is going to benefit the guild.

Are you arguing because you want to be right or are you arguing because you want to do what’s right for the guild? These are not always the same thing.

Even more frustrating, arguments can get heated and suddenly, you’re pitted against someone else in your guild. Not only does logic typically fly out the window in these scenarios, but suddenly the argument becomes less about whatever it is you’re arguing about, and becomes more about beating the other person. That’s what we do, right? We’re competitive. We want to win. Winning means that someone else loses. Whether it’s a boss or a PVP opponent… or even our guildmates and fellow officers.

This is precisely the wrong mindset to have. As a leader, one needs to make quick shifts in mindset. One moment, you may be trying your best to down a boss, the next, you may be arguing with your officers about the best strategy to ensure people don’t inappropriately soak Twilight Barrages on 25m Heroic Blackhorn…


Whatever the case, you need to stop being competitive when you start talking to other people. You need to slow down, calm down and listen to what they’re saying and then, regardless of how much you don’t want to, you may have to concede that the other person is right.

It’s Not Easy

Well, it’s not easy for me. And if you’re remotely competitive at all, it’s not going to be easy for you. But this is why I recommend that you do not surround yourself with “yes men” as officers. You want that other perspective, you want that dissenting opinion, if only to point out that there are other ways of looking at various problems.

It can lead to tempers flaring, it can lead to that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that you were wrong, but… if it leads to something better for the guild, isn’t it worth it?

Yup. It is.

So the next time you’re arguing with someone about guild stuff, take a second to look at the situation from another perspective. Understand why you’re digging in. Try to figure out if your wanting to be right, if your desire to win, is because you just want to be right or if it’s because that’s what you think is best for your guild.

(I promise you, it gets easier with practice!)

4 Replies to “On Competition, Winning and Being Stubborn”

  1. It’s good advice in general, not just for guild stuff. Unfortunately, too many people are interested in “winning” rather than understanding what’s best for all.

  2. Nailed it. A big portion of the conflicts we encounter are due to people on both sides being more concerned with winning than being right. It’s endemic to our politics, and it really gets in the way of solving major problems.

    I’m in the habit of being right – mostly because I (usually…) don’t make claims I can’t support. Sometimes that habit leads me to argue a point that really isn’t important or reasonable. I notice it most in interpersonal relationships, enough so that I’ve directly told my gf: if I’m full of shit TELL ME.

  3. Redbeard – Agreed, but offering life advice is probably out of my depth. ;) Guild advice? TOTALLY can do that, though. ;)

    I grew a lot as a GM and RL. I hope I can help others to do the same!

    Thanks for your comment. :)

  4. Chris – That’s outstanding, I love that you’ve told your GF to call you out! I really wish more people were as self-aware.

    I completely agree that this “winning” problem is a major issue in politics (indeed, everywhere) and creates barriers to problem-solving. I LOVE solving problems, so it’s extra frustrating for me to see this kind of behaviour. I really had to work hard to stop myself from engaging, but I’m mostly better now. ;)

    Thanks for your comment! :)

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