“Do Work” Series: Part 4 – Compete

Compete! Compete! Compete! The only thing you are left to do in life after you trust your talents and abilities and believe in yourself is to compete. Whether you’re playing a game, running a business, a waiter at a restaurant, or a teacher, your one job in life is to compete. It doesn’t matter what arena of life you’re in you have to wake up every day ready to compete and get better.

Competition is a term that is used every day during normal conversations about business and sports. It’s fair to say that competition is a major part of our society and, in my opinion, it’s what makes the world go ‘round. But, that’s not the competition that I am referring to. I’m referring to the internal competition that occurs when you’re putting in work or what I like to say, “doing work”.

Competing against yourself is the biggest competition of your life and the one that you cannot afford to lose. It’s a competition that never ends and one that you can win every single day.

When it’s time to put in work, in a game, in practice, at the office, or wherever you do work, you have to have the mentality that you are competing with yourself. You have to push yourself mentally and look at everything you do as a challenge against yourself. Your focus needs to be pushing your limits and creating an internal competition towards some goal. You cannot just show up and go through the motions and only attempt things you know you can already do.

I vividly remember when I was 12 years old making my dad hit me fly balls that I would have to dive for because I wanted to challenge myself to see how far I could run and make a diving catch. I would then do the same for ground balls. And if I missed the ball I would get mad and push myself harder to make sure I didn’t miss the next time. Now looking back at it, what I learned from all those internal competitions is what lead me to becoming a successful athlete, because in every attempt I made I learned something because I was free to fail.

Competing with yourself is one of the biggest hurdles that you have to overcome, embrace and accept if you really want to be successful. When you’re focused on competing with yourself you don’t get lost in external competitions where you start comparing yourself to others. When you’re putting in the work and competing against yourself your able to push yourself to new limits and you allow yourself to fail in a judgement free zone.

When you’re putting in work and focused on competing against a teammate or competitor you put yourself in a stressful mental competition. You are now more focused on beating or being better than them which puts added pressure on yourself to be perfect, knowing that if you make a mistake you will be judged. With this mentality you are now more focused on external victories than internal competition, which is the quickest way to stay in your comfort zone and be fearful of failure. Not to mention, you start to worry about what others think of you. All of which will limit your growth.

Your internal competition has to exceed your desires of external victories in order to reach your full potential.

As a former professional athlete I personally know how easy it is to get caught up competing against someone else. As a professional athlete you are competing everyday against your teammates because at the end of the day there are only so many spots on the roster and everyone is competing for that spot. What I found through my professional career was the ones who stay focused on themselves and who competed with themselves on a daily basis were the ones who made it the furthest and had the longest careers.

Competition is a great thing! Without competition we would all settle for mediocrity and never be pushed to get better. Without competition sports and business would be boring. However, we must not focus on the external competition. We must focus internally! We must focus on the things that we need to get better at individually and compete against ourselves so we are free to make mistakes and fail.

The freedom we get from internal competition is what helps separate us from our external competition.

Don’t’ get me wrong, external competitions can be a good thing, especially if you can use them to fuel internal competitions. We all need someone to challenge us and force us to get better. But at the end of the day you yourself are your best competition.

Compete Always! And Always Compete Against Yourself!

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