3 Reasons Competition Is A Good Thing

3 Reasons Competition Is A Good Thing

competition Usain Bolt Rio Olympics
Usain Bolt of Jamaica wins the men's 100-meter final on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Would you consider yourself a competitive person? Do you think of being competitive as a positive or negative personality trait? Competitive people sometimes get a bad rap, but a healthy dose of competition can help us better ourselves and strive towards our goals. Here’s why:

Competitive Feelings are Natural

To encourage healthy competition, it’s important to be comfortable with our feelings. Ignoring competitive emotions can cause us to feel jealousy or cynicism. Surprisingly, we often feel most competitive towards others who we respect or admire.

Acknowledging these feelings allows us to take negative self-talk and instead channels our emotions into positive action. Imagine, for example, that a coworker has just announced his or her promotion. You may feel envious or even put yourself down, (“I’m just not talented enough for the position”).

A person with a healthy competitive side may frame the same situation in an entirely different way (“I see new opportunities. If I work hard and seek out additional training, I have the chance to advance my career”).  After all, another way to describe a competitive person is ambitious!

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Competition Leads to Increased Teamwork and Motivation

Another positive effect of competition is its tendency to push us to do better. Our competitive spirit encourages us to innovate and think outside of the box. Healthy competition doesn’t have to divide us and set us up to be adversaries. Instead, it can encourage us to work together in new ways to help every member of our team be his or her best.

This is true on the athletic field, in the classroom, and in the workplace.  Frequently, a sense of competition forces us out of our comfort zone. Participating in competitive events also reminds us that it is oftentimes the team that works harder, smarter, and better together that trumps those that rely on natural talent.

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Healthy Competition Promotes Perseverance

Competition can help us analyze our strengths and weaknesses. Upon losing, a person with a healthy competitive attitude will go back and analyze his or her performance. Think about how an elite athlete reacts to a disappointing loss. She doesn’t sulk or blame others. Instead she reviews what went wrong and resolves to improve in those areas.

Competition can help us to focus and prioritize our training time where it really matters. For those at the top of their game, such as top ranked women’s poker players Annie Duke and Vanessa Selbst, a healthy competitive spirit transferred to other areas of their lives. These top ranked women’s poker players took the difficult competitive lessons they learned from the game and used them to help affect positive change at home and in their communities.  

In addition to playing professional poker, they are entrepreneurs, philanthropists, students, and teachers.  The drive and ambition these ladies show while playing poker is evident in everything they do – and that tends to be the case with competitive people who learn to channel it positively.

Once you embrace the healthy side of competition, you may find that your most important competitor is yourself. Don’t let negative feelings like jealousy steal the advantage of a competitive spirit; embrace challenges and use them to work harder.


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