My name is Erika Komori and I am a contest junkie. It’s both bizarre and exciting but over the past couple of years, I’ve gained notoriety among family and friends due to my winning adventures. I’ve received over $40,000 in free entertainment including trips, tickets to incredible events and free merchandise. Yet, what exactly have I learned from all of these experiences?
The Top 6 Lessons from Winning Contests
1. Pursue your passions
I’ve seen firsthand those that are the best in their field whether it’s a sporting event, concert or play. The dedication to their craft is obvious and, although I’m sure they’ve worked hard, it’s not surprising that success has followed. There are many occupations that you are qualified for and which you may already receive glowing reviews. However, what are your true strengths? What doesn’t ever feel like “work”? You are unique and there is something out there that you can do better than anyone else you know. I recognize there is a need to be practical, you have bills to pay and others depend on you. But find time, even if it only becomes a hobby, to do what you love. Every day is a gift; so why wouldn’t you try and make the best of it?
2. The power of positive thinking
I’ve read enough blog posts to know there are others out there that spend significantly more time entering contests than I do but don’t win nearly as much. In fact, some rarely ever win at all. They talk about what bad luck they have and how hard it is to win anything. What’s my mentality? I know I’m a winner and I expect to win. How can this be applied in your life? Think of that job interview that you know you could have done better on or that presentation where it was difficult to get your point across. How confident were you feeling beforehand? I’m a big believer that sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. We get nervous, doubt our talents and psych ourselves out. Take back control because no one can have power over you, unless you let them. Expect a positive outcome and let your true self shine through.
3. Believe in serendipity but don’t dwell on nostalgia
Through winning all of these contests, I truly believe that serendipitous moments exist (even those that are only acquaintances of mine have heard about an infamous police officer met on a contest trip). I’ve had my share of good fortune whether it’s hanging in the sponsor lounge, staying in a luxury hotel or getting the VIP treatment. Although grateful for these occurrences, too often we forget to enjoy the NOW. Once established in the workforce, there are those that long for their younger partying times with less responsibility. Likewise, I’ve heard plenty of students say they can’t wait to be finished school and start earning those big pay cheques. Use your past experiences as lessons for a better future. Yet, don’t get so occupied planning and goal setting that you forget to appreciate the present moment.
4. Identify the opportunists
I love inviting different people to various events that I’ve won. It’s what I like to call “spreading the joy.” I’m elated to share these experiences with others! In retrospect, I’ve realized there are certain people who I will only see if I invite them to contest outings. Unfortunately, some even expect me to take them and react negatively if I invite another. Do you have a friend that only calls when they’re in need? Or a colleague that needs last minute assistance with a project but won’t return the favour? The healthiest relationships are those that are reciprocal. If you’ve noticed a disproportionate effort in your relationship, maybe it’s time to question why you’re still in it?
5. Pay it forward
In attending galas with prominent attendees, there are two types of behaviour I’ve witnessed: generosity and arrogance. It’s refreshing that many of those that are most successful fall into the latter category. Numerous times, it’s actually the lesser known guests that can exhibit this condescending demeanour. It’s funny but such a small action like a celebrity taking a picture with a fan or an executive offering a few minutes of career advice can really make an impact. Volunteer, become a mentor or sign up for that charity challenge at your place of work. I understand the allure of material possessions, but at the end of the day what did you do to make a difference? These will be the experiences that you find far more gratifying.
6. Never say never
I’ve gone from reacting with glee at seeing James Duthie in the broadcast booth at a hockey game to meeting him at the Gemini Awards (he let me hold his trophy!), attending fashion shows to modeling in one and watching The Marilyn Denis Show to being interviewed by her. In these crazy moments, I know that no dream is too big and no wish is too outrageous. I trust that all of these outings are leading me on a certain path. Be open to stepping outside of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences. If you believe it, you can achieve it because anything is possible.