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The Positives of Competition

“You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.” – Steve Jobs

The rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates was no secret, but at the time of Jobs’ death, Gates wrote, “We were not at war. We made great products and competition was always a positive thing.” Competition between companies is a good thing, it drives progress, and it’s behind the on-going product and service development of just about every major brand you can think of, not just Apple and Microsoft. Pepsi and Coca-Cola; Asda and Tesco; McDonald’s and Burger King; Sony and Nintendo; Google and Facebook… the list goes on. However, it was the personal rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates that undoubtedly motivated both of them to push themselves and the creativity of their companies further.

Dr Damon Centola, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, believes that camaraderie is the key to positive competition. He says, “When positive competition is at its best, everyone knows they are working hard, and they all feel that they are enjoying the challenge. When competition turns to war, it leads everyone to be worse off.”

Research into the effects of rivalry on performance in sport and in the workplace has revealed that great rivals tend to have a shared history in terms of competition, meaning they engage with each other frequently. They also share similar characteristics and attributes, making them a fairly even match. Studies show that when a long-standing rivalry exists, motivation levels increase on both sides, resulting in both sides pushing themselves harder to win, thereby boosting the performance of all involved.

“Workers who have rivals tend to be more engaged, loyal and committed to their work.” – Professor Kilduff

In one study, it was found that placing high-quality employees next to each other in the workplace led to a 10 per cent boost in productivity, suggesting that just working alongside a highly productive individual can boost your own productivity. Dr Centola puts it this way: “Regularly benchmarking against a top-performing associate can help you identify gaps in your own performance or the need to master new technologies. People calibrate their ambition (and appetite for risk) via social comparison – the most important aspect of competition is goal-setting.”

Great rivalries create great competition, and positive competition drives all individuals involved to give their absolute best in everything they do. With this being the case, if you don’t have a rival, it may be time to get out there and find one. Rivalry may hold the key to achieving your true potential.

Don MacNaughton is a High-Performance Coach and has worked tirelessly to help clients achieve success in the world of sport and business over the past 15 years.   The next, highly popular, NLP Diploma and Life Coaching Certificate course starts in September 2019.  Click here for more information or to sign up.


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