Competition is a part of life. Some people are born into households with a competitive spirit, and some will go on to make careers out of competition. In fact, one could argue that just about every professional, in any field, will experience competition regularly. Whether you play a sport, attempt a degree in medicine or law, or take on any other role with the potential to advance, you will compete with others.
While some of us may try to avoid competition with others, it’s inevitable that we will eventually need to compete with ourselves, at the very least, to continue growing and learning. Despite how uncomfortable competition may be, in the right settings and the right forms, there are instances where it will be a huge benefit to your life.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Competition: What's the difference?
When introducing competition into your life, there are a few things to watch out for, to ensure that it’s not harmful competition. If you’re up against someone else, both attempting to establish permanent clientele and trying to gain more clients than the other person, don’t be toxic about it. Instead, demonstrate why they would want to pick you, by being the best provider you can be. Wish your opponent the best of luck and mean it. If you win, don’t brag. Instead, tell your competition how impressed you were with their performance. Practice good sportsmanship, even when you’re not playing a literal sport. In a competition with another person who isn’t showing good sportsmanship, be the bigger person. Be kind, through and through, and even if you lose, you’ll come out on top.
Aside from good sportsmanship, a healthy head-to-head competition includes …
- A mindset focused on learning, not just winning.
- Attempts to beat one’s personal record.
- Seeking a greater understanding of your opponent (or yourself).
- Trying out new methods of performance or taking a second shot at previously tried and failed methods.
Healthy competition focuses on what there is to gain from the competition, besides beating someone else. With that in mind, unhealthy competition looks a lot like the opposite of everything listed above. It’s also important to note that when we enter into a challenge against someone else, we immediately start comparing ourselves to them. While it may be hard to ignore your self-frustrations or insecurities, don’t let them cloud your judgment in the competition. When our shortcomings are highlighted (for ourselves or for others to see), we feel vulnerable and can sometimes act hastily or irrationally because of it. Remember: We all have strengths and weaknesses, and competition helps us to become well-rounded.
How can healthy competition be introduced into your life?
Now that we’ve covered what healthy competition should look like, here are a few examples of how to start bolstering your competitive spirit.
You vs. Yourself
As you begin to stare yourself down in the mirror and give yourself a hype speech, don’t forget that you’re competing against you! The best part about going “mano a mano” with the person in the mirror is that you know exactly how they’ll perform. Or rather, you know exactly how you’ve performed in the past. There’s no going back and watching the opposing team’s footage from their last game. All you do is think back and remember what you did last time and remember whether it worked or didn’t. Once you’ve done that, you can begin planning how you’ll perform this time.
These steps are sure to help you successfully challenge your best previous performance:
- Set realistic goals.
- Aim for growth and progress.
- Mind your influences (keep them positive).
- Celebrate your victories!
Even if you don’t beat your record but improve your average performance, that’s still progress.
You vs. Others
In day-to-day life, you’ll experience competition with others on several levels. You’ll compete with your team to see who can beat their own personal records, each other’s records, or set new records that have yet to be established. If your business thrives on making connections with people, maybe you and your team will compete to see who can make the most or the strongest connections. Or perhaps you can challenge one another to start taking steps to strengthen their current relationships, then determine who has taken those steps to the best of their ability.
Competition against others means:
- Encouraging each other.
- Patting your opponent on the back, whether you win or lose.
- Congratulating your opponent when they break a person record or your record.
- Challenging one another to improve.
- Helping each other reach personal goals.
- Being happy about all growth, not just your own.
Treat every competitor with respect and hope that you’ll both improve because of the competition.
Be your best, not the best.
Competition equals challenge, and when a challenge comes your way, be ready to take it on. It’ll increase your potential for personal and professional development. And if you’re competing against someone else, not just yourself, your competitive spirit will help bring out the best in them. Whether you win or lose, you’re having fun and truly giving your all to becoming the best version of yourself, it’s a win-win!