Years ago I was running with my wife in a 10km race. This is notable because she hated (and continues to hate) running. But she wanted to push herself and try something new.

To keep her focused and motivated, I asked her to find someone on the course she thought she could hang with or (better yet) beat.  She picked a guy in a red shirt. Over the course of the race, she kept pace with “red shirt.” Whenever she was getting tired or felt like slowing down, she would say “where’s red shirt?”

She did great in that race and felt good about her effort. I think the healthy competition from “red shirt” had a lot to do with it – even though he had no clue he was in a race with her.

Positive competition is good for you. Think of it as another kind of Vitamin C.

Without competition (or adversity) we get soft and lazy. Government agencies like the IRS and utility companies have no competition. They are a monopoly, and they are generally weak as organizations. People who strive for excellence exist in organizations like that, but they are often few and far between.

Competition would be good for them.

Stay on a cruise too long and you are at risk of getting soft and lazy. Everything is done for you. Nothing pushes you.

In your business, continue to use your competition to push you and your team to be even better. For example:

  • Be where your competition is (social media and industry conferences for example), but leverage these opportunities even better with high value education or special By Invitation Only events with other industry leaders.
  • Follow up with prospects and potential new hires faster. If your competition can respond to a request for quote in 24 hours, then find a way to respond by end of the day. See how fast you can get back to a job applicant, even after hours and on weekends.
  • Be best-in-class for profit margin, safety, efficiency, uptime – every important metric.

Leaders in a company should use leaders inside and outside their company to help them improve too. This is healthy competition and will dramatically improve you as a leader. For example, you could push yourself to:

  • Lead meetings better than anyone else. Have an agenda. Focus on high-value items with a good ROI for the company. Document action items and act with high accountability. Start on time and end on time.
  • Lead teams that are the best in the organization. Be that leader that attracts great talent like a magnet. Lead them in such a way that they LOVE what they do, how they do it, who they do it with, and the amazing results they get.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul talks about how iron sharpens iron. Great people can help make you great.

My CEO groups are full of VERY successful, amazing leaders. They lead great companies. They are super sharp businesspeople. I cannot tell you how many times I looked around the room and realized I was NOT the smartest person there. And that is FANTASTIC. I learn so much from these people. I am better for having been exposed to their thinking, goals, and energy.

Competition is GREAT. It can be fuel for your business and career. When we see someone who is better than us or has achieved more than us, we have a choice: We choose to be INSPIRED or INTIMIDATED.

I suggest you get inspired and be grateful for the push.