Jake Thompson | Keynote Speaker on Grit and Leadership

Do You Even Know You’re Already Competing Every Day?

Know what you're competing against

“Compete every day? No, that’s not me. I don’t compete so I’m not sure this stuff is for me.”

Does that response sound like something you’d say? I used to hear it quite often at tradeshows with the Compete Every Day team. Visitors would be walking the expo floor, stop in the booth to shop the apparel and then see the brand name and give me that line.

They believed that if they didn’t join a fitness competition or play competitive sports that they, in fact, weren’t ever competing.

It’s not that they weren’t competing against something, it’s just that they didn’t realize they were

Sports skews our perspective on competition.

We watch athletes compete against each other in football, basketball, or poker. Every two years, we cheer for our countries as they compete against each other for Olympic gold. We may even cheer on friends as they compete against other people in a local Saturday afternoon fitness competition. We have this idea in our mind that competition requires two people or two teams of people, pitted against each in a winner-take-all.

Maybe for some, we don’t like the idea of beating someone else. Maybe the whole “sports” thing was never for us, so the idea of competing against someone else isn’t our cup of tea.

But just because you’re not competing against someone else every day, doesn’t mean you’re not in a competition.

Each morning, our competition begins.

We compete with hitting the snooze button. We compete with those negative, lazy thoughts that want to keep us in bed instead of getting up and to the gym or into the office. We compete with the cravings to splurge on junk food every meal even though our doctor recently warned us that we need to start eating better.

Entrepreneurs working at home alone? You’re competing against the distractions that try to rob you of productivity. Those nagging thoughts drawing your mind away from a blank Word document and onto your laundry, dirty dishes, or the latest Netflix series.

New employees? You’re competing against fear of a new workplace, feelings of not fitting in, and the idea that you shouldn’t speak up because you’re new.

Veteran employees? You’re competing too. But your daily battle is with complacency, comfort, and ego. Just because you’ve been there for fifteen years, why settle in? You’re competing against everything internal that is trying to tell you that you’ve been at your company long enough, settle in, and quit giving your best efforts.

Each one of us has a daily competition to be better than yesterday. It’s not with anyone else, because each one of us has a race to run and a lane to stay in.

Look at an Olympic sprinter.

The gun fires, she takes off for a finish line 100m straight ahead. But then, she starts to wonder, “Where’s everyone else?” and she looks to her left, her right, and maybe tries to sneak a glance behind her just to see what everyone else is doing. And do you know what happens?

She slows down, she runs out of her lane, or worse, she falls down. Our bodies aren’t designed to run at their peak speed if our heads are turned, shoulders twisted, and focus anywhere but straight ahead. It’s only by staying in our lane, pressing forward with everything we’ve got toward our own finish line that we’re able to reach out peak speed and find our true potential.

It applies to track – and it applies to life.

Your only competition is with yourself – and who you were yesterday.

Our ego, laziness, comfort, and negative self-talk all compete for our attention and our actions. Each one, if we were to give in to them, pulls us downward in a negative direction. Each one, when chosen, can slowly drain life.

Each morning we get to make the choice:

Am I going to compete today against everything that is trying to bring me down and hold me back? Am I going to compete so that tomorrow I’m in a better starting place than today?

Many people don’t realize they get to make this choice. They don’t see a physical opponent standing across from them, and so they (many times) sleeplessly just try to pass through each day and, more often than not, they lose that daily competition. If you don’t know you’re in the midst of a battle, do you really try to fight? Of course not.

It’s like someone telling you that you lost a 1-on-1 basketball game that you weren’t even aware you were playing. Some guy is over in the corner, just making shots against air because you didn’t realize you were standing on the court and playing.

That’s an absurd visual – but isn’t in the same with our lives? There are negative things competing with us every day and if we aren’t aware of them – and taking action to compete against them – how do we ever expect to win?

Competitors do it differently.

Competitors wake up each morning, understanding that they’re in a competition. They have a focus and mindset to compete against everything in their world trying to hold them back or bring them down. And they compete, with all of their energy, to win that day and be better than the day before.

Some days they come out on top, some days they don’t. But what matters most is that win or lose, the very next morning, they wake up focused to give all of their energy into competing again to be better than yesterday.

You’re in a competition every day whether you realize it or not. Today’s a great day to start competing back.

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