Ask Tim
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Competing's Real Prize

Executive Director Tim Lawrence has known SkillsUSA as a student member, instructor, industry partner and state director. Got a question? He can help.

Q: I want to compete, but I’ll be really upset with myself if I lose. How do I handle the disappointment?

Tim: As a high school senior, I competed in SkillsUSA too, and all I came home with was a certificate of “participation.” Big deal, right? I didn’t win a medal. It was tough seeing the other students win. But, 37 years later, that participation certificate occupies a prime spot in my office. I’m more proud of it than any award I’ve received in my lifetime.

I lost the contest that day, but I gained so much more. Suddenly I knew I was doing something important. It was important enough for my advisor to believe in me and ask me to enter the competition. Important enough for the industry judges to look at my work and tell me how to improve. Important enough that medals, scholarships and prizes were handed out. I didn’t get any of them, but I grew tremendously from the experience. I set my goals higher, for my education, my career and myself. That day made a huge difference in my life.

This issue of SkillsUSA Champions shows how competition can enhance your personal ambitions and how true Champions overcome obstacles. In particular, read the ship log of Rod McCurdy, a former SkillsUSA member. Rod sailed 75 days across the Pacific in a ship made of bamboo, wood and ropes. His words at the journey’s end say it all: “One thing I learned is that storms pass. Rough seas, heavy rains and winds — all end in calm. When a storm comes, prepare yourself and ride it out — it will pass.”

We’re all disappointed at the moment things don’t go as expected. But after enough time to reflect, we see what adjustments are needed to succeed next time.

You may know by now that I really like the movie Batman Begins. In one scene, young Bruce Wayne falls into a hole and, swarmed by bats, is consumed with fear. When he asks, “Why did this happen to me?” his father replies, “We fall so we can pick ourselves back up again.”

When performance counts, in competition and in life, we all have to dig deep within ourselves. When you compete, you have a great support team in SkillsUSA, but your desire and determination is what will always pull you through, win or lose.

No one succeeds without failure — not you and certainly not me. We pick up and we move forward. It’s part of life and part of learning and growing. It’s part of being a Champion! End of story

Got questions about SkillsUSA or other topics? E-mail anyinfo@skillsusa.org or send a letter to SkillsUSA / P.O. Box 3000 / Leesburg, VA 20177. Put “Ask Tim” in the subject line or mail address.

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SkillsUSA Champions | Summer 2006 | Volume 40, No. 4
Copyright ©2006 SkillsUSA. All rights reserved.

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