Why We Need Healthy Competition to Grow

If you are ever feeling stuck in a rut you might be due for a dose of healthy competition.  Now, I’m not a competitive person in the traditional sense.  We all know someone that hates to lose and doesn’t take it well.  Some people turn everything into a battle when it isn’t necessary.  Hell, I know people who won’t even attempt things they are unlikely to win.  I am not like these people.  Allow me to explain what I mean by healthy competition and why I think it can help you grow.

A Healthy Wager

This spring I signed up to run the Falmouth Road Race for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.  I do financial coaching work for their patients and truly believe they will cure cancer in my lifetime.  Also, I love this race and it is pretty hard to get in because it is popular and a lottery.  The course is 7 miles along the beautiful Cape Cod coast line.  The fundraising goal per person was $1,500 and I’d raised that for the Boston Marathon so I didn’t think much of it.  I signed up in May ready to go!

Problem was, I completely forgot about this during June and July.  Similar to a cat with a laser pointer there were plenty of other things distracting me this summer.  Most of them involved the beach, eating, drinking and some work.  Zero involved running or fundraising.  So when I got the email the first week of August that all donations were due on the 6th I panicked!  That is one expensive bib number.

Fundraising can provide a big dose of healthy competition.  Raising a lot of money fast can be intimidating but if you can appeal to people’s sense of compassion it is possible!  Also, literally no one loses in this competition.  I managed to get it done but I figured even if I had to pay up it was going to a good cause.

The Team > You

Thanks to some strategic posts on Social Media and a lot of help from my friends, family and coworkers I managed to raise $1000+ in 5 days.  It felt good to see the emails pop up when someone donated.  It’s possible I could have done more if I started early.  However, with the pressure on I had to ask with a little more feeling.

At the Dana Farber team photo we took before the start they announced that close to a million dollars was raised during this ONE event to fight cancer.  Clearly we all got it done (even if it was last minute). I was a small part in what the team accomplished together.

You can have healthy competition on the field or at work.  Just remember that the team’s success is bigger than your own.  Growth happens when everyone does their job and has a common goal to fight for.

It felt great running with a team this year even though I didn’t really know anyone else in the group.  We all were running for this cause for our own reasons.  Everyone has been touched by cancer somehow.  When I ran past the Dana Farber cheering section they roared. It was awesome!

Fans are key to healthy competition.  Nothing makes you push harder than someone in your corner telling you that “you’ve got this”.  That could be your friends, a mentor or even a stranger on the side of the road.

The Ultimate “Healthy” Competition – A Foot Race

As I mentioned I do a lot of things knowing I’m not going to win.  Around mile 5 I decided to just enjoy the course and slowed down a bit.  I high-fived a bunch of kids, shook hands with a Veteran and just started spacing out.  I grabbed a cup at a water stop and walked while I drank it.  It was then that another woman in a Dana Farber tank top patted me on the back and said “come on”.

I realized I was moving forward but I’d stopped racing.  This happens in business too – you start out fired up and then switch to auto-pilot.  I don’t think she was inviting me to a foot race… but it just kind of happened!

We stayed together the last mile and a half.  Occasionally I’d take the lead and see her right on my heels.  Not entirely sure if she knew we were “racing” but I believe so.  The best part was we were on the same team that day.  She made me go faster and I believe I did the same for her.  My last mile was just as fast as my 1st and much better than the other 5.  Neither of us was going to win the prize money but a little friendly competition was just what I needed to push myself when I was feeling “content” but had some left in the tank.

What gets you motivated?  Have you ever been stuck in a rut and a little friendly competition helped you out of it?  Let me know in the comments!



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