Some of us like to be competitive - we like to push ourselves, to give our 100% and to fight even on the brink of failure. In fact, I think competition has always been an integral part of human nature. It is what makes us grow. However, when overdosed, it can take a toll on you mentally and lead to self-destruction. Also, on the other extreme, some people fear competition and don’t want to be competitive. They think that being competitive means being aggressive and being obsessed about winning (and not losing). This blog post is my take on what it means to be competitive and when is it not ok to be competitive.
Consider the following 2 scenarios -
Scenario 1 - Alice and Bob compete with each other in sports tournaments. They share their knowledge and learnings and push each other to get better. They respect one another in the sports arena and share a good laugh outside. They attribute one anothers’ success to their rivalry. Tennis fans might think of Federer and Nadal as they read this.
Scenario 2 - CompanyA and CompanyB are in the same industry/domain and are competing with each other for the highest market-share. They steal ideas from one another and would do anything to stay ahead of the competition. Rather than focusing on innovation and gaining a competitive edge, they run marketing ads criticizing, making fun and pulling each other down.
Scenario 1 is healthy competition and Scenario 2 isn’t. As Peter Thiel says in his book Zero To One, unhealthy competition means no profit for anybody and just a struggle for survival.
You’ve Crossed the Line IF
You’re overly competitive if -
- You mainly focus on others’ results and achievements.
- You focus on the end goal and not the process.
- You lie, scheme or hide information to gain an unfair advantage.
- You get jealous when your friend succeeds.
- You want to win even at the cost of an important relationship.
- You fail to get innovative or creative for the fear of losing out on the competition.
- You focus on the short term gains vs the long term investment.
- You’re competitive 24/7 - even in your personal life.
- You always give excuses for your failure and for another’s success.
- You would choose the win-lose option without considering if there is a win-win scenario.
How NOT to be Overly-Competitive
- Compete with yourself - Give your 100% and be happy with that :)
- Focus on the Process and not on the Result - One way to do this is to do what you like.
- Allot time to spend your competitive energy - Some of us might have a competitive nature. Spend this energy by competing in a sport tournament or any scenario where you’re expected to compete.
- Invest In Your Friend’s Success - Even if you and your friend are competing against each other, invest in their success. This will make you play fair and also avoid the jealousy.
- Empathize and be compassionate - Learn to think win-win and not win-lose (when possible).
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