How to Tame Your Inner Competitor (And Still Bring the Intensity)
By Eleanor Beaton
Confession: I once lived to compete.
I cared less about doing my best than being the best. At the gym. On the yoga mat. At the office.
On the one hand, my competitive tendencies pushed me to excel and stretch beyond my comfort zone.
But the effort required to always be winning often left me depleted and lonely.
I couldn’t lose myself in the endorphin-soaked joy of kicking imaginary butt at a kick-boxing class…because I had to keep an appraising eye on my fellow boxers to ensure I was punching harder and faster than anyone else.
I couldn’t offer a colleague a pure and uncomplicated “congratulations!” on a big win – because a part of me felt a little put-out that I hadn’t achieved it first.
And so the energy I brought to my various pursuits – writing, fitness, business, yoga – became tainted with the need to always be measuring up.
Shortly after my second son was born, I hit the basketball courts armed with the latest high top sneakers and my ever-present desire to win. I played harder than my still-healing body could handle.
Five minutes into the game I threw out my back – an injury that took me away from competitive sports for 18 months.
In order to recover, I had to switch basketball, kickboxing and competitive kayaking for long walks and easy stretching.
I swapped out intensity for ease, force for suppleness.
And as I healed my poor, bruised back through gentle yet consistent exercise, I noticed a corresponding shift in my relationship with competition.
My injury forced me to quit paying so much attention to what others were doing. In order to stay safe and healthy, I could no longer afford to push myself to compete with other people. I had to stay focused on my own path.
In my work as a leadership coach, I talk to so many women who – like I once did – push themselves to the brink of exhaustion out of a misguided need to measure up to other people.
Many of these women fear that if they drop the desire to compete and win, they’ll lose touch with their ambition and therefore won’t achieve their deepest desires.
The truth that I have learned – and that I have witnessed so many of my brilliant clients uncover – is that our desires – and the path to reach them – gleam brightest when we stay in our own lane.
When used with love and intention, your competitive streak is a powerful ally – a jet pack that adds fuel and vigour to any activity.
The key to harnessing that delicious competitive spirit is to equip it with blinders.
Bring the focus back to you, your lane, your path.
So when your inner competitor begins to pace and fret, and threatens to rear its head in an unhealthy and exhausting way, try this:
Imagine channeling your competitive spirit into a beacon – a bright, fiery, focused light, illuminating your way forward, one bold step at a time.
Need help tackling your inner competitor? Set up a complimentary strategy session. I’d love to talk to you!
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