Competition

America loves a competition.  Fight it out and the cream will rise to the top.  A Competitive Spirit is something Americans celebrate.

America loves a winner…

This should be relatively obvious.  Americans like tournaments.  And Competitions.  Who is the best?  And even when someone is the best that year, we often ask, who is the G.O.A.T.?

Like him or not, Tom Brady is probably the G.O.A.T – “The Greatest (Quarterback) of All Time”.  Jeez – in some cases, it is not enough to win a superbowl (thanks, Trent Dilfer!) or to win two (just barely there, Peyton Manning), or to win four (Montana, Bradshaw).  Who has won the *MOST*

Yeah, we Americans do that.  It drives us.  Or we are driven.  We want you to “bring it.”  Give us your best shot within the competition.

Jesse Owens on the winner’s podium with his competitor and eventual friend Luz Long at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany

In case you’re not convinced (and even if you are), how about this fact; The good ol’ US of A has 1,000 Gold Medals through the history of all of the Olympic Games.  Apparently, that’s more than 2x the next country.  Great American Olympians includes the likes of Jesse Owens, Michael Phelps, Jim Thorpe, Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Simone Biles, Kerri Walsh-Jennings and April Ross.  We celebrate them.

…but not those who cheated…

We have former heroes – Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and Marion Jones.  They cheated, we know it, and this takes the magic out of it.

…and we talk of “winning” more than perhaps we should…

The proof for this is simple.  How many times have you heard a business say it is going to “win” against the competition?  How often do we discuss “fair” outside of a fixed competition?  Both of these happen often.  Both of them take concepts from a fixed competition and apply it to life.  They happen often and are tragic mistakes.

A fixed competition is a finite game.  Everything else is an infinite game.

The terminology of a finite game vs an infinite game is new to most Americans.  Simon Sinek, noted expert in leadership and entrepreneur, defines two different types of games – finite games and infinite games.   This starts at 19:30 into the presentation of the link.  Finite games are played to win.  Americans love *Winners*.  But how does one “win” an infinite game?

No, really?  How?  Have more points at the end of 60 minutes?  or 48?  Or at the end of 9 innings?  Tongue-in-cheek, a game of Cricket under traditional rules could last 5 days – which might feel infinite to Americans, but still has a start and stop.  (I urge you to trust me on this one….)

So . . . How to win an infinite game?  And just what is an infinite game?

Per Simon Sinek, an infinite game is one that has been going since before time, and will be going long after we’re gone.  It has no fixed players, it has no fixed rules (other than what society allows) and the only way to “win” is …to not lose.  To survive.  To endure.  Greatly?

…because as a culture, we lack and are missing a word to even describe…

American English does not have a word for “Persisting Greatly”.   When a thing exists, it is named.  And when a thing is named, it exists.

The Greek culture has up to six words for love – Agape, Philia, Ludus, Pragma, Philautia, and Eros – each for different ways to Love.  The German culture has a word for laughing at someone else’s misfortune – “Schadenfreude”.  The French like to create words to replace English ones that creep in – like a ‘French’ way to say “CD” or “DVD” – one supposes, to make those things more “French”.

By naming something, it is created.  The Tohono O’ odoham nation spent centuries being called the Papago “Indians”, until they successfully asserted their right to name themselves.  The name ‘Papago’ was applied by the Spanish explorers – who learned it from a rival tribe.  Incidentally, Tohono O’odoham translates into English as, “the Desert People”, and this is now how their formal name with the US Federal Government.

Words have power.  Names have power.  Very few Americans name their kid “Benedict”.

…to say how to “win” at an infinite game.

And yet we have no word for “Perisisting greatly across time towards one’s destiny.”

To Americans, you have to win.  Just win, baby!  Just win.  Simply enduring is so boring.  So uninspiring.  So close to irrelevance.

This website – the Ark of History – coins the term “to ark history”.  In this way, ‘ark’ becomes a verb.  To ‘ark’ history is to persist greatly across time to bend history towards the destiny of one’s choosing.

In America, there is lots of competition.  And also lots of arking.  Groups of people have been coming to America for centuries.  The Tohono O’odoham will tell you that people have been coming for millenia.  The Tohono O’odoham are still here.  Persisting greatly.

And while the execution has always been less than perfect, the ideals of America have always been the best – “we hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator certain inalienable rights – among them Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

At the Ark of History, we know that Jefferson left several groups of of his initial words – African slaves.  Women.  Tohono O’odoham and all other tribes.   But here’s the thing – one has difficulty reserving these beautiful privileges for just some people without everyone else aspiring to ark – without everyone else aspiring to come, to compete in finite games but also to ark history to expand the pie and add themselves into the group of people who have time in the Sun.

There is truth to the joke that says, “War is God’s way of teaching geography to Americans.”  Every international citizen I talk to laughs when I share that joke – because there is a kernel of truth to it.

And in some ways, that truth is part of a beautiful characteristic of Americans – we don’t really care where you’re from.  Or what you did when you were there.  Hey buddy, what have you done for me lately?  What can you do now?  Can you compete?  Can you win?  Can you bring it?

Many, many, many great Americans were immigrants.  Or children of immigrants.  Or grand-children of immigrants.  The Tohono O’odoham would say that everyone who doesn’t speak their language is an immigrant.  They have a point.

Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century.

The Ark of History is founded on seven principles.  One of them is competition.  But not just in a finite game sense – because while the site enjoys a great finite competition, it is founded with the purpose of enduring greatly across time to its destiny.  And doing it with sportsmanship.  And admiring ideas that rise to the top.  And not being sacrosanct about ideas or beliefs or dogma, but rather, by focusing on a competition of ideas and beliefs that rise to the top, that “bring it”, that persevere – and that persevere greatly.

And for those that don’t yet fully appreciate the power of words, we’ll just say it for now as “competition”.  At least until everyone reads this very document.