The Importance of Healthy Competition


On a recent run with my children, I was reminded of why I love running and why I encourage them to run. It has given me the best opportunity to understand what healthy competition is and pass those lessons on to my family. Running gives me the opportunity to exercise while I set goals for myself and “best” myself. It’s me competing against ME. (By the way, I am NOT and do not pretend or intend to be an elite runner.)

Whether we like it or not, life is full of competition. Competition comes in many forms: competing for a spot on a sports team, entering a baking contest at a fair, earning a place in a university program or applying for a job etc. It is entirely up to us how we let it motivate and affect us. At times, we become obsessed with “beating our competition” and being number one in our field to feel validated and accomplished.

However, competition isn’t about being better than another company, person or “expert”. It’s about being better than who or what we were before. It IS about working harder, making changes and taking yourself to another level. While your competitors and/or colleagues may spur you on to excel, your competitive drive shouldn’t destroy you or take the joy out of the process. 

Now, back to my running comparison. I may never win a race or place first in my age/gender category, but I’m still very competitive by nature. I set a distance and time goal for myself then sign up for a race. Once I’ve trained and run the race, I revisit my goals and see where and how I can improve. Over the years, I’ve learned that I AM my biggest competition.

Healthy competition involves improving, realizing and developing your potential as well as advancing your own skills/expertise. Once you focus on yourself, where you want to go and your own journey, it will ultimately, lead to your desired outcome.