The most successful businesspeople that I have researched for several of my books are truly competitive souls – sometimes to a fault. Their competitive spirit fuels and drives the way they think, the way they act, and certainly the way they react. To others, they may appear to be people with a high level of passion.
The most powerful characteristic I’ve noticed about the super-competitive is that they think longer and harder about their challenge. They are hyper-focused on what matters to get the win and care less about what they consider to be irrelevant details. And that focus may be precisely why they win more often.
If you ask them, most competitive souls I know will say that they are not reaching their potential – even if they’ve reached goals that others only dream of. Someone who is not driven by winning and greatness may feel they have reached their best or good enough. Competitive people can usually point to someone who is doing more, helping more, or winning more.
Competitiveness does not come from your boss telling you to work harder or try harder to win. Competitiveness is something self-imposed, powered by the comparison to others and the desire to be the best or number one. In some cases, people are born with this spirit, and in others, they develop it.
My son, since he was a little boy, has had a desire to win. He had to win in the game Candyland, be the first one in line for the bus every single day, the first one in the car, and the leader on our bike rides. Any normal situation was an opportunity for him to be first or win. Today he’s a teenage hockey player and his desire to win fires his play. Sometimes this fire looks ugly and can be viewed as overly emotional. There is no doubt that there is an ugly side to competition, but I do believe that competitiveness is not well-understood by those who are not nearly as concerned with winning.
So does competitiveness determine success? Not always, of course, but I would say competitiveness often determines success.
Where is your competitive spirit? Are you passionate? Do you want to be number one in your firm or your industry?
Some people have given up on the dream. Some never thought they could achieve it. Some are burnt out. Some are still working and fighting fueled by their competitive spirit. Where do you fall in line?