Do you thrive in the face of competition or try to stay under the radar? Does competition motivate you to stand out from the crowd, or does it frighten and intimidate you?
Competition has never been more intense than ever for this fast-paced generation. People are getting smarter and finding ways to work more efficiently. You have to stand out to be successful, and that requires a consistent drive for improvement. Stagnation gets you nowhere, and if you remain passive and submissive, opportunity will pass you by.
Whether or not you like it, competition isn’t going anywhere. With the state of the workplace today, is it time for all of us to suck it up and embrace our competitive side? If so, just how competitive do you have to be to get ahead?
The battle between the hawk and the diplomat
Leadership philosophies vary. Some people feel that it is better to be diplomatic at work. Others find that you have to be aggressive to get ahead.
We’ve all had that colleague who seems to enjoy going with the flow. The person had stable employment, but they never advanced. They seem satisfied with their work even though they aren’t climbing the ladder to leadership. These are the employees that you see happily working at the same company, in the same role for 20 years.
On the other hand, there are the fiercely driven individuals who are willing to take on challenges to be successful. They are the people trying to prove themselves so that they can advance their rank and max out their salary over the course of their career.
The difference between these two types of people is their competitive spirit
Whether a person is passive or outspoken, they make a conscious choice to be one or the other. Many factors, such as personality type and upbringing, play a role in how they see the world. Type A personalities make waves, while Type B personalities are more likely to go with the flow.
Some of us are naturally soft spoken and gentle. People with this personality tend to be peace makers. They avoid conflict, and they avoid drawing attention to themselves. Others among us are extroverts who feel energised in social settings. They like to stand out from the crowd, and they’re highly competitive.
Family upbringing plays a role in how you perceive competition as well. Some parents push their children to achieve at a young age. They teach kids that to get ahead, you have to take risks, be competitive, dream big, and be the best at what you do.
Other families don’t stress competition. They teach children to play it safe. People with this ‘timid’ personality avoid risk taking. They don’t feel the urge to achieve recognition or get the promotion. As long as there’s food on the table and a roof over their heads, they’re happy.
It’s possible to be too passive or too competitive
Being Mr. Nice Guy isn’t always good for you
If you’re too passive, you’re going to get steamrolled by someone with a higher competitive drive. Others may mistake your kindness for weakness, and they may not show you the respect you deserve.
The meek among us have to worry about the constant threat of others’ perceptions. People may mistake your willingness to go with the flow as proof of spinelessness. Even family members and friends may see your peace-making ways as evidence of lack of a backbone.
Of course you can still get by, but it’ll be hard to get far and feel fulfilled. When you bend to the will of others, you won’t reach your full potential. You’ll be too busy trying to please others. The bottom line is that you’ll miss out on big opportunities while you’re living in someone else’s shadow.
Fierce competitors beware
Being competitive has its own set of challenges. You can seem ruthless at times, and you may unintentionally harm the people you love. You may resort to unethical practices so that you can get what you want, regardless of what everyone else wants or needs.
Competitive types tend to be workaholics. They place a lot of stress on themselves, which can damage their health, family, and social life. If you’re too driven, you run the risk of becoming so focused on tasks that you forget the big picture. You can seem aggressive, pushy, and cruel to others.
Finding a happy medium
Somewhere between being too passive and too competitive, is a healthy balance. You might expect us to tell you that the balance is somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, but we’re actually recommending that you aim to have more competitiveness than passivity.
It’s impossible to completely avoid having competitive feelings, so you may as well learn to turn them into a healthy competitive spirit. When you pick a challenge you’d like to overcome or choose a person that you’d like to beat in a competition, it gives you direction and motivation. This drive will push you outside of your comfort zone and give you incentive to improve yourself.
Competitive people constantly have to read, research, and forge meaningful connections with people in order to gain new insights on work. As a person with a healthy competitive drive, you’ll always try to expand your knowledge and improve.
Nobody makes memories by avoiding new situations. Being competitive means that you’ll get the chance to grab life by the horns. You’ll self-reflect on what you’d like to accomplish, and later in your life, you’ll have great stories to share.
Being competitive is great for your team too
As long as you have a healthy amount of competition in the workplace, you and your colleagues will be able to push one another to be better. If you compete with the intention of helping one another rise, you’ll all win.
Being competitive as an organization also builds trust. Think about the way that sports teams practice. They compete against one another to improve their skills. The cohesiveness that they develop enables them to face opposing teams successfully. A team won’t flourish if they’re too cautious and guarded to engage in healthy competition.
When opportunity knocks, answer the door
Going with the flow can help you navigate tough situations, but if you’re too passive, you’ll miss out on opportunities to shine. Having a competitive mindset isn’t about picking a fight with everybody. It’s about figuring out how and when you should fight.
Being a peacemaker doesn’t always make you a good person. Sometimes, not speaking up is the worst thing you can do. There’s nothing to gain by hiding your light under a bushel.
We humans are meant to be competitive. We have a survival instinct that drives us to seek the best means for carrying out our basic needs. It’s natural for us to fight–we just engage differently these days.
How you can spur healthy competition
- Keep it fun. Sometimes a little light-hearted competition helps people stay motivated. Incorporate games or other fun activities into your workplace when possible.
- Teach people how to compete in a healthy way. Learning to respectfully disagree, push back, and give constructive criticism are valuable skills for anyone who works on a team. If you want someone to know how to compete, you may have to show them how to do it first.
- Let people take responsibility for their work. A worker who isn’t invested in their projects won’t perform well. You and your team need to take ownership for your work and have a stake in the company. Give employees a voice, and they’ll be more motivated.
- Encourage a feedback loop. If the culture in your workplace is geared around constant improvement, then people will be more willing to take risks and innovate. If it’s normal for everyone to give and receive constructive feedback, you can create a productive work environment.
Set out to find your personal best
A healthy amount of competition motivates you to achieve new heights. When you engage in competition often, you learn that winning and losing don’t have to be high-stakes activities. You understand that sometimes you’ll be better than others, and sometimes people will be better than you.
Ultimately, as you continue to compete, solicit feedback, and improve, you’ll stop looking for external motivation and focus inward. You’ll realize that you’re competing with yourself first and foremost.
Give yourself permission to make the rules instead of just follow them. Engage in a little bit of friendly competition, and never stop working to improve yourself.
|||^||Examined Existence: Type A vs Type B Personality Traits: Similarities and Differences|
|||^||Psychology Today: The Benefits of Feeling Competitive|
|||^||Entrepreneur: 5 Ways to Promote Healthy Competition|
|||^||Entrepreneur: 6 Ways to Build Healthy Competition at the Office|
|||^||The Muse: How to Create a Culture of Healthy Competition|
|||^||Parents: Why Competition Is Good for Kids (and How to Keep It That Way)|