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April 6, 2021

Is It Good To Be Competitive?

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Is it good to be competitive? This hits really close to home for me. Growing up with an older brother and being a collegiate athlete, competition has been an integral part of my life. I’ve always been told that being competitive is a good thing - It helps make you a better businessperson, you’re more passionate and committed, and you’re seen as someone who can get things done no matter the opposition. But taking a step back, I’m not so sure I buy it.

The very spirit of competition means that two people are competing for the same thing, whether that’s a championship, a job or a romantic partner. Underlying the idea of competition is scarcity, and that there’s only so much to go around. It’s either you or them that gets it. I do think competition plays a healthy role in society - It drives innovation, it sets higher expectations, and it motivates a lot of people, but I think competition should be reserved for the right contexts.

For myself, and with my background I feel like I’m supposed to be competitive. But I feel like I’m misunderstood and that my natural state is actually more collaborative than competitive. It doesn’t upset me if I lose a casual game, and when I do go the extra mile to win it’s for the intrinsic fulfillment of executing rather than proving my worth in beating someone or something else.   

I share this perspective because maybe you can relate to it. Maybe you’re a frenemy always trying to one up your best friend. Maybe you’re in a sibling rivalry. Or maybe you’re jockeying for position with a work colleague. When is it right to be competitive? I don’t know, I have a lot of figuring out to do on that myself, and maybe you could benefit from learning more about how you relate with being competitive too.

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