I like a good competition. It’s a trait of mine that fuels my desire for success. Every trait has its good and bad sides. Ambition can be good. Drive? Good. Bug-eyed passion? Mostly good. Wanting to succeed at another’s expense? Not so good. Not rooting for my boss, brother and husband? Pretty BAD- for them, and me.
I had another brutal self-discovery the other day. Upon hearing about a dream or success of another person, I often pause before my rooting or cheering. During that pause I assess whether there is a conceivable way I could be compared to that person and then, if I could be, I entertain the person’s failure with a little bit of relief. Sounds animalistic doesn’t it? A “survival of the fittest” mentality.
Here are the people I think I could be compared with: my equals or higher ups at work, my mother, my husband and my brother. Interestingly, these are also the people whose wins I benefit the most from. So, how undermining and ridiculous of me to spare any of my rooting or cheering, right? And yet, I know this is one of those human phenomena that none of us admits, but most of us engage in. So I decided to go public.
After sharing this little habit with my boss, we had a good “ugh”/laugh and we decided to use the Handel Method ™ technique of turning this bad trait into a good one. We decided to have a little conscious competition to see who could have the most magical results over a six week period. We agreed that each day we write out what we want to have happen, and we promise to read the other’s and to root for each other. At the end of the day we report back with our results on getting what we wanted and our sales pitches for why we should “win” for the day. Interestingly, now that the competition is out in the open, it’s fun. I still like to be declared the day’s winner, but I find myself newly celebratory when “I lose” because it’s rewarding to participate in my boss’ results and see her win (at least). As I am sure you can tell, this has turned the dynamic on its head.
The results I’ve been getting along with celebrating my boss’ wins make me feel like I am winning- even more! So I’m wondering if families, sports teams and businesses might start to use people’s individual competitive natures to fuel the fire for extra results- with the notion that the whole team wins when any one person pushes him or herself harder, even if it is “to be the best.”
The desire to be recognized and acknowledged is natural. The desire to surpass expectations and perform REALLY WELL, should be encouraged. No excellent innovation or art would happen without it. So, since many of us are naturally competitive, let’s admit it and start to use it for the good, for all.
All the best,