Everybody wants to win. It makes sense, the satisfaction of beating somebody or a team is unmatched. After the victory, you feel on top of the world, and nobody can bring you down. You are ready to jump right back in, and prepare for the next opponent. Being competitive is the strong desire to win, and doing whatever it takes to make it happen. It is the constant search of external validation, proving to the world and yourself that you are great. But the most important part of competition is the motivation as to why you are getting involved in the first place.
What is Competition?
When thinking of competition, what is the first thought that comes to mind? For me, it’s victory, the sweet euphoria of the win. On the contrary, the tornado of negative emotion that is associated with defeat, creates an urgency to succeed. The reality is, competition is a double edged sword. Losing is inevitable. So then why do successful people like Gary Vaynerchuck preach that you need to, “learn to love to lose.” That seems counter intuitive coming from a massively successful entrepreneur that people would view as a winner. Like it or not, losing is a necessary evil. The most successful people in the world have lost or failed more times than you can imagine. Many athletes credit failure or rejection as to why they worked even harder to pursue their dream. Denzel Washington once said, “fail big and fail often”. And it makes sense, you know what the best way to learn is? That’s right, to fail. Expand your comfort zone and try something new, because being uncomfortable means you are growing. When you start something new, you will not know how to do everything. You will make mistakes, or have small ‘losses’ throughout your day. Over time, the results of these small battles will teach you the lessons you need to be successful. I believe that realizing that you will not be perfect, is a good place to start. Focus on doing what you can, to the best of your ability.
Competitive people usually have a set of goals for their endeavour. This gives them a roadmap to reach their end goal, or help them win. When setting goals, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Make sure your goals are specific. Every little detail of something you want to achieve should be a part of the goal. Ensure that the goals you set are measurable. This includes how much time you want to take for the goal, and a specific unit of measurement for when the goal is completed. Leaving vague goals in terms of results makes it hard to determine when you have accomplished it. Set a hard deadline on when the goal must be completed, and hold yourself accountable to that. Try to surround yourself with like-minded people to help keep you accountable. Make sure your goals are attainable and relevant. Many competitive people want to blow the competition out of the water by achieving massive goals. Taking goals step by step and progressing to the next level makes the big picture feel much more attainable. Do not be afraid to push yourself, but be realistic. Lastly, write down your goals. This makes them feel more real, and not just a thought you had on how to improve. Read them when you wake up and when you go to bed, so that you are always aware of them during your day. Write about the experiences you have trying to complete your goals, the good and the bad. Fully invest yourself in completing your goals, and big dreams will become realistic and obtainable.
What is Healthy Competition?
Being very competitive can lead you down the dangerous path of comparison. Wanting to be the best at everything you do, is impossible.
People who are highly competitive will try anyway, and start comparing themselves to people who are better than them at a specific activity. This can cause a spiral of jealous thoughts, and a negative view of yourself.
People have found themselves hating a competitor without knowing them at all. It is the attitude that there is only so much success that can go around, and if you don’t get it, you will get nothing for your efforts. That is an example of unhealthy competition, which emphasizes scarcity and fear.
Healthy competition focuses on building up the competitors individually, and the organization they compete with.
Keeping competition healthy is something that needs to be focused on in our society today. It focuses on the journey both sides took to get to a place of competition and ensures that any rules or values both sides share are held up while the competition happens.
Competition is amazing when it is being done for the right reason, and in a healthy way. Healthy competition improves everybody involved, both on an individual and team basis.
This is why some team-building exercises companies use to help chemistry are small fun competitions that require team members to combine skills to complete a task.
Healthy competition isn’t talked about enough, because everybody is focused on the result. Not many people lose a big game and think that it is ok because the team grew closer because of the loss.
People dwell on the loss and become upset about the reasons they didn’t win. If you ever lose sight of why you are working so hard to compete, think back to when you first started.
Think of how you felt, not knowing what would happen, or how best to go about things. Then you will come to the realization of how far you have come, and ground yourself in knowing that you are constantly getting better.
Some people are just naturally competitive. Others develop a competitive edge after experiencing different levels of failure and success. Competition has the unique ability to turn somebodies life upside down, for better or for worse.
So when you ask why am I so competitive, find the source of motivation behind you. It could be getting that big promotion at work that four other people are also working for. You could be competing for the starting position on a sports team.
You could be simply trying to win a family game night for once (my mom always wins Ticket to Ride). Either way, as long as the competition is healthy, you don’t need to worry why you love competing. You need to focus on where the competition you’re in is going to take you.