Are successful people more competitive than the average person? Do they have this "refuse to lose" type attitude that drives them to work harder and sacrifice more? I'm picturing Ricky Bobby (Will Ferrell) when his father tells him, "If you aint first, you're last!", as a youngster in the movie Talladega Nights.
I remember, growing up, having this feeling that if I lost in athletics, trying your "best" didn't really matter - regardless of what the coaches would say. Either you were a winner, and came out on top, or you lost, and were on the bottom. It got me to thinking, at what point does being overly-competitive become a detriment to your success? The more I thought about it, the more I realized its not about being "too competitive", it's about being competitive in the "right" areas.
Striving To Be The Best
If I could go back, I wouldn't strive to be the best athlete on my high school basketball team. I would strive to be the best teammate. It's one thing to score the most points, or win awards. But if it's at the detriment to the team, it's counterproductive and purposeless. Make it your goal to make those around you better.
In business, striving to be the best is a tremendous attribute to have. That competitive drive is a trait I personally look for when conducting interviews and bringing in new sales professionals. But, if I could go back, I wouldn't strive to make the most sales, or the most money. I would strive to be the best manager, co-worker and adviser to my clients. Focusing purely on the numbers will cause you to lose sight of the people around you. In the end, it's our customers and colleagues that are the catalyst to our success.
In relationships, do you need to be in control? If there's an argument do you need to "win"? I know I used to feel that way. Yet, with every argument "won", all I was doing was driving a bigger wedge between myself and the other individual. The best way I know how to describe it is similar to a boxing match. One fighter has the championship belt, the other is trying to become the champion. Both fight valiantly, yet the fight ends in a draw. The winner isn't satisfied with his title defense, because he didn't win outright. The challenger, still has no belt. Nobody wins.
Being competitive is a great quality to have, but if you find yourself flipping over scrabble boards or alienating friends and co-workers, it might be time to take a step back. Don't take flag football too seriously, and these parents that are getting into fist fights at there kids sporting events should be left on a deserted island somewhere.
Look for a way to strive to be the best at bettering those around you. As the old saying goes, "A rising tide raises ALL ships."