Author Topic: Competition  (Read 3575 times)

vagon

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Competition
« on: December 10, 2014, 05:59:11 PM »
I recently did one of those personality review things at work that essentially saw me having an undesirably high  level of competitiveness.
This competitive drive is reflected not only in work, but also in my enjoyment of sports and in video games (single player is never as fun as multiplayer).
Competitiveness was essentially baked-in to my existence through various schooling experience etc and I had up until now never really considered it an issue.

I had always taken for granted that competition was good, it personally motivated me to reach socially recognised achievements and of course capitalism suggests that it drives economic improvements.
Yet now I'm seeing the other side. My gaming and sport can leave me moody when I lose. Peter Thiel's book Zero to One had me questioning the real benefits of economic competition. I suspect at times I come across like a jerk due to my competitiveness.

So who is right here? I suspect as with most things its a gray area, but whats the sweet spot to target?

GuitarStv

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Re: Competition
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2014, 07:07:16 AM »
Competition is good, it's a great way to challenge yourself to be better.  Being competitive and striving to win is good . . . if you're not trying hard, you're not really living life right.  Being moody and unhappy when you lose however is where you're hurting yourself.

I love boxing, wrestling, and martial arts.  When I would lose at say a wrestling tournament, I'd go over every action that led to the loss with my coach.  Then we would come up with drills and counters to fix the deficiency that led to the loss, and work on them.  I wouldn't lose the same way again.  You have to remember that every loss is a chance to improve.  If you're not losing, it might be fun to crush the people you're playing with but the odds are you're stagnating skill-wise.  You want to be challenged on a regular basis by better people.

When you apply all this to day to day stuff you end up in one of two scenarios:
- Going against someone you can easily crush . . . in which case you can take it easy and try out new things.  Trying new or different stuff makes you seem like less of a jerk crushing the less talented guy, and gives you a chance to develop.  Even if you lose because of your change in tactics, it's really a win!
- Going against someone at or above your level . . . in which case you go all out, and should enjoy your losses as learning experiences.  Be genuinely grateful that you've found someone who can push you.  Every loss in this scenario is a big potential win long term!

goodlife

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Re: Competition
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2014, 07:23:33 AM »
I think being competitive is good to a certain degree. I used to be very competitive as well but that also has downsides...I used to be incredibly focused on achieving certain things...and nothing else. It's tunnel vision really. By now I have realized this and I stop to smell the roses (so to speak) a lot more than I used to, which to me is good. I also realized that competition for the sake of competition is not desirable or productive, in fact it can be destructive (i.e. the jerk comment that you made). I used to be very competitive in sports, versus now I tend to just enjoy it. This is not the Olympics for God's sake, it doesn't matter if I win or lose every match, what matters is that I and my opponent had a good time. No need to compete just for the sake of it. I know such people and now they kind of piss me off. I used to be one of them, but thankfully not anymore. I also used to be a great ladder climber in every environment, but I realized by now that on the top of most ladders is a whole lot of nothing...and then I just look for a new ladder to climb. Pointless really. Of course I think it was good that I was very competitive growing up, if I hadn't been, I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today. So yes, being competitive is a necessity to a certain extent. But once you get a bit older (I am 30 now), I think it is essential to mellow out a bit...otherwise you may indeed become a jerk...I know quite a few.

FoundPeace

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Re: Competition
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2014, 07:53:43 AM »
Competition often seems to me like people trying to prove who is better. My motivations don't have anything to do with anyone else (unless you count wanting to help my family or make good relationships). I actually was just alking about this last week with some friends. I asked the competitive ones if they would ever say "I'm better than you." The answer was clearly "no." I can't understand why that same person would want to do something simply to win and not because of the enjoyment of it.

*Note: I think the competitive drive is different from the drive to excel and be good at what you do. Maybe this is a fine line, but that's the way I see it.

Murse

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Re: Competition
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2014, 07:55:39 AM »
I am not saying you are anything like I am about to describe. I had a buddy who was very competitive and ... Jealous when other people had what he wanted. I won't go into detail but he could always dish it out (calling eachother ridiculous names while playing mariokart) and sometimes he could take it. Other times he would get personally offended and basically throw a tantrum. the friendship went sour he started hanging out with another friends ex. This friend was cool with it, no big deal, but then this friend went to hang out with mr. Competitions ex, mr competition threw a tantrum about how that not cool and it is completely different based on how long the relationships lasted. Basically the problem with this guy is he is a hypocrite in every way (Including money borrowing), he liked doing things that other people weren't allowed to do. I don't think there is anything wrong with competition itself, only if your ego is so big that you refuse to lose.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Competition
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2014, 08:05:37 AM »
The survey is biased.  They want you to feel badly about being strong and individualistic.  Why?  Because they want to beat you into submission to the point where you feel unable to leave the company for another.  They don't want you competing in the marketplace and selling your talent to the highest bidder.  That's why companies do personality reviews: to evaluate and manipulate employees at a deep, emotional level.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Competition
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2014, 08:21:59 AM »
Was it real people reviewing you or just some 20 question quiz?  If it was just a quiz, I wouldn't worry about it too much, yes they can give you an indication of where you might fall on a spectrum, but are hardly capable of judging if you are "too" competitive.  If it was done by real people, you might put a little more stock in it, but keep your life strategy in mind.  If the response is from peers, they probably feel like you are breaking "union rules" for productivity and making them look bad.  If this is getting you ahead in the company, rock on.  In just a few years you will FIRE and never have to see these people again.  Almost all the higher-ups in my company are extremely competitive, it is what got them there in the first place, and they don't care what people think about it.  They are smart enough to know not to humiliate others though (most of the time) because it destroys loyalty.  If it was from your manager, you might listen a little more closely, as you want to continue your climb up the ladder.   

I would not consider myself over-competitive, but I do turn it on from time to time when I can see a clear, tangible, and substantial win. Otherwise, I compete just hard enough to get most of the value, but not necessarily the "win".  It's an efficiency thing. 

In summary, apply it when it matters, and don't be too much of a jerk!   

arebelspy

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Re: Competition
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2014, 11:12:18 AM »
You can be competitive in the moment without being negatively affected by the outcome.

To me the ideal is to be competitive without caring about the outcome.  It doesn't matter if you win, or lose, and you are the same either way.

Two relevant quotes for you:

1) Two lines from Kipling's "If":
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same

2) "When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning." Reiner Knizia
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

deborah

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Re: Competition
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2014, 01:20:25 PM »
Sounds like it was a type A vs type B personality review. Type A's are likely to die sooner, everything else being equal. The most significant trait of type A's is their competitiveness. There is an enormous amount of literature about this.

vagon

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Re: Competition
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2014, 04:37:47 PM »
Thanks all, interesting perspectives.

For those that asked, it was a self and peer/manager/reports review assessment, oddly enough the peers didn't see me as being nearly as competitive as I saw myself.

What I am taking out of these answers is a general reinforcement of my perspective - keep the competitive drive, but be mindful of the reaction to that competition. Where that reaction is negative try to let it go.

Deborah, you mentioned literature, any good book suggestions?

deborah

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Re: Competition
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2014, 09:47:12 PM »
It is something mentioned in a lot of heart disease web sites, and as an aside in a number of books - for example I am reading Drive by Danie Pink at the moment, and it has a couple of pages about this. http://www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html talks about is as does http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Type_A_and_Type_B_personality_theory. I haven't been interested enough in this to find a complete book on this theory.

vagon

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Re: Competition
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2014, 10:18:22 PM »
Thanks