I’m pissed off!! I just recently lost a “Fitbit Challenge” over the weekend and I was at least 8,000 steps ahead of the nearest person to me, and all of sudden out of nowhere some person who wasn’t even in the top 5 going into the home stretch zooms past me to take the victory. Now, I’m not saying something nefarious took place….I’m saying something NEFARIOUS took place. Yeah, you can say I’m a poor loser and why would I get so upset over something so trivial (as my wife has said to me), well I do have somewhat of a problem with being obsessively competitive. I compete for just about anything that I deem worth competing for….which is pretty much everything (LOL!). While some would say that’s an admirable trait and of course since I fall into that category I would tend to agree, but, I understand the other side where it can potentially be a serious disorder. Having “Balance” in one’s life tends to have better outcomes and being obsessive with anything has its consequences. Most people would have chalked up the “Fitbit” loss as a minor defeat that has little impact on world peace and that’s true however for me it was a DEFEAT. Hey, I’ve always been that way and it has helped me and hurt me.
Mental Competitive Balance
I agree what the h*ll is “Mental Competitive Balance”? I heard this phrase the other day so in tune with my competitive self I researched feverishly to find a true definition of the phrase, and of course what I found was ambiguous at best. However, what came up in most of the searches (not including the gazillion sports analogies) was this distinction between overconfidence and confidence. Highly competitive people apparently have a “confidence gene” that’s rabid. A recent quote I found is contrary to what you may believe is how overconfident people look at competition:
“An overconfident person cannot accept competition and believes firmly that he/she is the best. He/she will believe that come what may they are the most skilled individuals and hence no one can defeat them. On the other hand, a self-confident person is aware about his/her skills and knows that he/she is going to give their best. Many may disagree and suggest that a firm faith in winning in whatever one competes for is not overconfidence. One way of ending the controversy is by observing the intensity with which one wants to be the winner and the attitude with which one faces failure”.
I do agree with the last statement of the paragraph which speaks to the balance of being competitive, and that’s the intensity/effort someone gives and the perspective from failure. I don’t agree that you should accept failure however a healthy dose of context based on “self-development” is how we should ALL look at failure. The “Mental Competitive Balance” as I see it is someone consciously pursuing the benefits of self-development or specifically self-improvement. In other words, I can have a healthy appetite for competition as long as whatever happens as a result of that competition I’m continually learning from the experience and getting better from that experience. When I loss the stupid “Fitbit” weekend warrior competition I immediately went on the negative warpath from the defeat….rather than lick my wounds, learn from it, and strategically plan on winning the next go around. Being overly competitive but having “Mental Competitive Balance” is a good thing and an approach that’s more strategic and productive.
Business Competitive Balance
In corporate America I was devastatingly competitive, now as a consultant I’ve moved to the stratospheric level of competitiveness (LOL!). However, even in business there’s prudent balance one needs to have because failure is pretty much guaranteed. Those companies/CEO’s who are ultra-competitive will probably tell you that losing a bid, merger, account etc hurts, but not learning from it and leveraging that knowledge for later victory is suicide. APPLE got its clock cleaned on numerous occasions by Microsoft HECK Steve Jobs was booted from APPLE at a time when he was wildly successful and yes obsessively competitive….yet he maintained that balance. Licking his wounds he learned from that butt-kicking and came back to revolutionize personal computing and creating today’s most iconic brand. The lesson I learned from Steve Jobs is not how he became successful or even his failures, it’s what he LEARNED from the journey that helped him reach his aspiration. And if he was alive today he’d probably say “I still have more to learn”. Competing in business today takes teaching balance which very few companies either have the competency to do so or disastrously avoid doing so. I’ve always submitted that leading, strategizing, and executing with balance is critically important and conversely is the reason why the APPLE’S/GOOGLE’S of the world continue to thrive. In my recent whitepaper (The Customer who is she/he?) I reviewed the recent hardship facing retail legend JCPENNEY whose beginning premise was to have stores run with honesty, and a deep respect for the customer. Somewhere along the way JCPENNEY lost that balance of inspiration with the customer and has succumb to the same imbalance many of its notable competitors (e.g. radio shack, sears, K-mart) have suffered. Business is global which breeds turbulence, volatility, and uncertainty so it stands to reason that the climate for which business operates in is imbalance….hence businesses have to ride the “imbalance train”. We see this a great deal in turbulent market’s whether it’s Oil, Gas, IT, Healthcare etc being able to stay balanced in an environment that’s not balanced is a challenge, however, reacting to the imbalance is a different thing…that’s where balance comes in. Maintaining a foundation of balance in business has a lot to do with that business’ vision. As a large or small business owner if I were to ask you to tell me about your vision and how often do you refer back to that vision, could you do so in a succinct manner? If your answer is yes you have just joined the “1%”. Business owners/CEO’s can give you their elevator “Mission Statement” but when asked “Who are you”? & “Where do you want to be”? The answer is usually……crickets. Perhaps the strategy for business to stay balance is not only learning from the journey of “competitiveness” but establishing a “Vision” that becomes a key reference point to sustaining balance. I’m always amazed at the companies that never seem to go away they’ve lasted over the test of time, and have remained true to their vision which has helped them to be “Business Competitive Balanced”. Below are 10 of the oldest and most successful corporations in America:
- Caswell-Massey est 1752 (Soap & Toiletries Company)
- Lorillard Tobacco Company est 1760 (Tobacco Company)
- Bakers Chocolate (Mondelez) est 1764 (Chocolates Company)
- Ames (Griffon Corp) est 1774 (Manufacturer of Shovels)
- Bowne (RR Donelly) est 1775 (Financial, Marketing, Communications Company…started out as a printing company)
- Bank of New York (BNY Mellon) est 1784 (Oldest Bank in America)
- Cigna est 1792 (Healthcare Insurance)
- State Street est 1792 (Financila Services Company)
- Jim Beam (Bean, Inc) est 1795 (Whiskey Company)
- JPMorgan Chase est 1799 (Banking & Finance Company)
Over half of these “INSTITUTIONS” I’m not familiar with and perhaps that’s the key…to be balanced is to stay under the radar. My message: It’s okay to be obsessively competitive as long as there’s balance, and if that balance contains a healthy appetite for “Learning”, “Experiencing”, and “Developing” then by all means compete against me at “Fitbit” (LOL!).
Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.
BEING OBSESSIVELY COMPETITIVE….with balance!
Take a look at our whitepaper: “The Customer”….who is she/he?
AH2 & Beyond Consulting