Competition is good. People are naturally competitive. It's a part of the human spirit and what pushes us (our human programming) to survive as a species. Competitive activities not only drive learning and performing, but when we feel stagnated, competition is the key to generating fresh, new energy.
However, this competitive energy can be utilised and perceived in a negative way as a threat and the damaging resultant jealousy that accompanies it, or viewed positively as healthy motivation driving us to achieve more, to be more.
Motivation is mandatory towards success in life. It is a dominating force that keeps us moving towards our goals whether they be personal, business, relationship, health or fitness related. Without it, achieving anything in life is a monumental task.
A healthy competitive atmosphere is the perfect setting to boost the empowering force of motivation.
In fact, research demonstrating how competition is empowered to improve motivation is not a new science. It dates to the year 1898 when psychologist Norman Triplett discovered that cyclists ride faster when another cyclist is present.
Healthy competition is a self-generating, driving force that brings out the best version of us. It provides that much needed "kick in the butt" that many of us need to jolt us out of mediocrity and get us moving towards greater challenges and higher heights better than anything else. When we tap into competition, we are no longer the only motivating force pushing us to improve because competition now does most of the work for us.
Some people just seem to be born competitors and enjoy a high level of motivation because of it. All they need to do is look in the mirror and they see their toughest competition. Unfortunately, not everyone is born with the same level of motivation or drive as they are. But the good news is that a competitive spirit can be nurtured and developed and one of the best ways of doing so is through a proper workout/fitness programme.
Fitness is the perfect tool to teach you how to have a healthy competitive drive because the basic premise of being fit means that you pushed yourself harder than the previous time.
Group workout sessions offer the ideal platform and perfect opportunity to nurture your competitive spirit because each person's individual activity when involved in a competitive situation, helps to raise the bar for everyone participating.
When choosing someone as a workout/competitive partner don't just look to your friends. Finding others at a similar fitness level as you are, is important, but they must still challenge you. It is paramount to your success and your local gym is the ideal place to tap into and find the perfect circle of fitness competition you need. Remember, you cannot move forward in anything in life without the element of challenge.
However, if working out by yourself is more your thing, then you're in luck too because fitness sessions don't have to include others in order to push your competitive spirit. Your personal fitness sessions also offer you the perfect opportunity to become your own healthy competition. Let's face it, if you want to continue building on the fitness progress you've made, you'll have to continue to one-up yourself. So essentially, you've become your own healthy built-in competition and self-motivating machine.
Competition is key to increasing motivation, improving productivity and providing accountability and better performance. Every time we reach a personal best, lift a heavier weight or beat our workout partner, we enjoy a natural high. This high is a type of reward for reaching a long or short-term goal and the feeling we enjoy because of it provides a boost to our competitive spirit to want to achieve more.
This healthy competitive drive that's developed through disciplined workouts at the gym (or wherever your fitness journey takes place) isn't only effective during those times. This new energised spirit of competition is yours to tap into and take advantage in all areas of your life. The body you are after, the perfect business, the healthy bank account – whatever it is, a healthy competitive spirit provides the motivation to get you there.
The next time healthy competition presents itself in your life, don't shy away. Don't view it as something standing in your way or as an enemy to deal with. Rather, embrace it as a catalyst for self-improvement and ride the wave of success that goes with it.
If you want to take advantage of and harness the power wielded by your competitive force, look no further than your next visit to the gym – it is literally packed with motivated, competitive spirits, those that get the job done and are willing to lend a hand to help you get the job done.
So, what are you waiting for? Kicking your competitive spirit into high gear and taking advantage of this incredible power is as close as your next gym visit away.
Remember, you can't always be the most talented in the room, but you can always be the most competitive.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner at Anytime Fitness.