COMPETITIVENESS IS GOOD FOR YOU
Essentials|November 2019
COMPETITIVENESS IS GOOD FOR YOU
Think wanting to win is only admirable in teams? Think again, as we show how a few tricks from sports psychology can pay off in day-to-day life

Be honest. Have you ever bowed out of a situation the moment you sensed a whiff of competition – be it from colleagues, friends or enemies? Research has shown that women and girls are more likely to ‘opt out’ when rivalry comes into the arena – while men and boys respond by upping their game and enhancing their performance.

One theory is that women are raised to feel that competitiveness is ‘unfeminine’ and at odds with our role as ‘nurturers’. Or maybe it’s truer that most of us avoid competition for fear of failure. A shot of competitive spirit can enhance your performance and give you direction and purpose. ‘A good way to frame it is as a “personal best”,’ explains sports psychologist Amanda Owens. ‘First and foremost, you’re competing against yourself, so whatever you’re doing, you’re able to see how you’re developing.’ Here are five common crisis points… and how to come out ahead.

YOU HANG ON TO MISTAKES AND FAILURES

You have a difficult conversation ahead with a friend – and all you remember is that occasion when you said all the wrong things. Or when facing a work challenge, your mind dredges up the last time things went wrong for you.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

The biggest impact onperformance is remembering how we performed previously, say psychologists. Perfectionists, in particular, will be haunted by that one mistake instead of the many occasions that they did well. Successful people make mistakes, too, but they eliminate them from their thinking. Handing over power to the negative voice can provide an excuse to bow out – it’s a way of saying, ‘I was rubbish last time, so no point expecting much…’

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November 2019