Why Competition Is Healthy

Competition is something that surrounds us everyday, in one way or another. Whether it is in sport, where individuals or teams compete against each other to be best at their chosen skillset. Or, in business, where companies work to create the next best product, ahead of rival companies. And, my personal favourite, competing against yourself; when you push yourself to make your ‘best’ even better.

The term ‘competition’ is defined in the dictionary as a rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common. This usually results in a victor and a loser, but not necessarily involving the destruction of the latter. If you chuckled at the last part of that description, I am with you. To me, competition is the essence of innovation, inspiration and motivation. It drives us towards achieving our goals in life.

It’s not all about winning!

Some can perceive competition to be a negative thing, particularly when the focus is purely on ‘winning’ or fuelling the ego. This can remove all sense of fun and eradicate the valuable experiences gained and lessons learnt through competing with others.

Competing has shaped me as a person and how I live my life. It has had a positive impact and taught me so much about who I am and where I want to be. Different scenarios where I’ve been in competition have exposed me to a range of emotions and experiences from which I’ve learnt. For example, being humbled, losing, winning, ecstasy, sportsmanship, feeling cheated, investing time and hard work, passion, leadership and enjoyment. All of the aforementioned have, in some way, changed my perspective and taught me how to act when similar situations reoccur.

Lessons learnt

Newsflash, we cannot all be the best at everything we perform in, every time. There is a lot to be learned when others out-compete us! Yes, it can be an uncomfortable feeling being perceived as worse than someone else at doing the same thing. Does this make competing bad? No. By the very definition set out in my opening paragraph, someone has to play the role of ‘loser’. But where has the idea come from that this is a bad place to be? If you come third or fourth in a competition but gave it everything you had and achieved a personal best effort, that’s something to be proud of! It’s not something to devalue because two people finished ahead of you.

It’s on those occasions when we aren’t the ‘victor’ that we are prompted to evaluate where we are currently in our performance. Is it something you want to continue to do in a competitive setting? Is it something that has inspired or motivated you to work harder? Are you still enjoying it? It could even lead to the realisation that you don’t want to compete anymore. Perhaps you are satisfied with the level you have reached, which, in the end, is a place where most of us want to be anyway.

To conclude, competition can be healthy when perceived in the right way. Sure, winning is fun, but sometimes losing is fun too. The important take away is that you should enjoy whatever it is you compete in. I heard a fantastic sentiment about competition recently that I would like to end with. “We often trick ourselves into thinking that we need first place. But what we are really looking for is our place. When you find it, whatever it is, hold on to it. When you find where you belong, it doesn’t matter who is first, because we are here and we, are the champions.”

Coach Sam

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