I am very competitive.
I have been my entire life. I want to be the first, the best, the only. I set arbitrary goals and then try to exceed them. This has led to what some might call “lofty achievements.”
I am the author of two books, I started five businesses including a crossword card business (where my brother created the cards and I marketed them) that sold over 10,00 cards in hospital gift shops around the country, a vending business I grew from $90K in gross sales to 1/4 of a Million Dollars in 20 months, and I went from entry-level manager to store manager at Best Products in less than a year.
But I’ve never believed that any of it was enough.
After all, so and so has done this, and so and so has achieved this. Competitiveness can easily turn into jealousy. It is easy to see unhelpful thinking surrounding jealousy. This leads me to why I am competitive and whether I need to change.
Maybe I just need to change my attitude towards competition.
Ten years ago, my daughter and I went into the City (New York, of course) to an all-day Brand Camp. There we met Hajj Fleming who hosted the event and an Entrepreneur, Peter Shankman. I have been lucky enough to stay in touch with him over the years and even spent a morning in his office, evaluating my business and creating a plan to grow it.
I still receive occasional emails from Peter. Yesterday, he was writing about success and competition.
I’ve said this before, and it always requires repeating: THE ONLY PERSON YOU’RE UP AGAINST IS YOU, YESTERDAY. If you’re better today than the you of yesterday, you’re winning. As hard as it is to do so, we’ve got to try and remember that.
This applies whether you’re 15 or 50, whether you’re running a company or running around as a mailroom employee. In the end, the race is long, and it’s always with yourself.
I promise you – you’re doing so much better than you’ll ever allow yourself to believe. You’ve gotta take my word on that.
You’re better than you know, even if you don’t always know it. (I know I certainly don’t.)
Click here to learn more about Peter https://www.shankman.com/
There it was, a healthier way to view my competitive nature.
While I always get something from Peter’s emails, this hit the spot. The only person I am up against is me, yesterday. I get that. I can relate to that. I can beat that! Ok, I’m chomping at the bit to get started. Competing against myself is not completely foreign to me.
But I have not thought of it in the context of evaluating my success in life.
It is easy to get caught up in the bumper sticker version of competition, “Those who collect the most toys, WIN.” Success is personal. What defines it is different for each person. Competing against yourself makes more sense than trying to compete against Elon Musk or the writing accomplishments of John Steinbeck.
Each of us has unique talents we use to make the world a better place.
By focusing on how I am performing against myself, I can see if I am getting ahead or falling behind. While I am fully aware that the path is never a straight line, periodically viewing my accomplishments against what I accomplished the day before, makes sense.
Harnessing my competitive nature in a way that is healthy will be a new strategy in my toolbox. As I continue to learn about depression and life with it, this will be part of my self-care. If I am only competing against myself, then there is less stress, less consternation, and less pressure to be what someone else is.
I get to be the best version of me.
Thank you, Peter, for your words of wisdom.