Competition: A Dirty Word

At a young age, most of us were taught to compete and compare. Whether it came from our parents, teachers, friends, or from media and television, many of us fell into the trap of so-called “healthy competition”, and fell victim to all its ramifications.

Unfortunately, rather than bringing a positive outcome and healthy result, competition often brings disappointment, frustration, anger, and fear. Competition can make you question your own abilities and qualities, and lead to a belief that you are not good enough or smart enough. Rather than motivating you, it may also lead you to give up on your dreams and goals, resulting in a life full of anger and resentment. In my practice I have seen so many young people who truly loved playing a certain sport, who all of a sudden quit playing it. It was the pressure from parents or coaches to compete that rendered too much stress; what was once enjoyable became painful so they quit.

In business we also often see companies trying to compete and out-do one another. Some conjure up strategies that demean the other company’s abilities, products or services in an effort to make their own seem superior. Although these strategies may have short term gain, they always result in long-term loss.

You see, you must understand that there is a BIG difference between competing and going after your own dreams and personal goals. The definition of compete is to strive to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others who are trying to do the same. In competition the goal is to take something away from another person that has worked hard for it. This is wrong because when you take something away from someone else, natural progression will lead to someone else taking something away from you—it’s just how things work! Instead when you put full attention and passion toward your goal you will not only succeed but you will also fill your life full of joy, happiness, and peace.

So how does this work in sports you may be asking yourself? Isn’t there always a “competition” resulting in a winner and a loser? Well let me pose a question and paint a different picture. In a competition how many winners are there in a seven-man race? We must understand that there are none. The person who arrives to the finish line first and claims victory has placed others in a lesser position. When there is no competition all 7 men will win because they all started and they all finished according to their own abilities. We should be racing to reach our own personal goals, not to out-do or beat someone else—our biggest adversary should be our self and our last personal best. 

If you look at the automobile industry in the last decade competition was one of the factors that lead many companies close to bankruptcy. This situation created massive job loss because competition demanded they produce cheaper vehicles in less time. Building them in North America was costing more, so in order to be competitive they closed industries down and went overseas where labour was cheaper. But if you look at the larger picture, problem is, this led to lost jobs locally, depression in many cities, and consequently a bad economy. In our quest to be competitive, we may have created a cheaper vehicle with a larger profit margin but we also created a society of lost jobs, and lesser incomes. If there are not as many jobs, there will be less people to purchase these vehicles no matter what the price. With fewer jobs, there will also be less disposable income to keep things moving in all areas of our local economy—in the end competition causes everyone to lose.

But let’s look at things from another side of the equation, one without competition. You could have two very similar businesses in the same city or town and they could both prosper and grow by working together. For example, two merchants may both sell groceries but they work together instead of competing against one another. By communicating they decide on a plan that will benefit both businesses. This week one merchant will have chicken and blueberries on sale and the other will have beef and strawberries on sale. This way they are not in direct competition with one another and there will be a need for consumers to visit both stores (if you are aware, you will notice that grocery stores rarely have the same sales going on at the same time—this is a strategy not a coincidence). There is always plenty of business to go around. If a company attempts to take all the business in an effort to make another company fail, the universe will take that company down. A company’s goal should never be to make another business suffer, in order to make their company gain.

Remember that in competition there are no winners, only losers. If you want to achieve success in business, sports, and life just focus on your own goals. Put passion and love behind what you do and align yourself with the right resources. Competition does not motivate or encourage us to achieve—it is our own human nature and inner passion to succeed that will drive us to reach our personal best!

For more information on this article or for assistance with a winning strategy to succeed contact Flavio at 905-684-1717 or by email at For the past decade he has worked with executives, entrepreneurs and professional athletes alike helping them reach their own personal goals to achieve success. He welcomes your call!

Written By: Flavio Iammarino, Ph.D, SW, C.Cht

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