Competing With Yourself
Our 10-year old daughter has been a competitive swimmer since she was 7. She loves it. She started about a year later than most of her friends, so from day one, my wife and I told her, “Jalen, don’t worry about the other swimmers. Remember, you’re only competing with yourself.”
She listened. She tried to focus on improving on her personal times instead of worrying about how she compared to girls that had been swimming for a year or so longer than herself.
With this attitude, she started getting pretty good. It didn’t take long before her coaches started noticing and moving her up to the older swim groups. Next thing we knew, she was swimming at meets against 10-12 year olds instead of 7-8 year olds. So we kept telling her, “Don’t worry about the 10-year old girl swimming next to you. You’re only competing with yourself.”
I remember one meet in particular. She was 8. In one of her events, she found out she was competing against four 11-12 year olds in her heat. She wasn’t too thrilled about it. I decided to see if all this “competing with yourself” talk had done any good.
So I told her- “Jalen, if you beat any of these older girls in your heat, I’ll take you to whatever movie you want.”
She ended up beating all 4 of them. Took first place in her heat and in her age group. I took her to the movie of the choice and we had a great time. But I’m pretty sure she liked the blue ribbon even more than the movie.
Since then, her confidence has grown tremendously. As a skinny 8 year old, she qualified in 2 events for States in the 10-year old age division. About a year later, she was State Qualified in about every event she attempted.
All this was the result from Jalen learning how to compete with herself. To not worry about what others are doing, but to keep her focus only on improving herself.
Competing With Yourself
Here’s another true story about someone who excelled from competing with himself.
Ok, obviously the commercial is just a commercial, but this is one of the most popular MJ commercials Gatorade ever did.
It didn’t take Michael Jordan very long to establish himself as the greatest player in the game. So what did he do to keep getting better? He started making up his own personal competitions within practices and games to ensure that he never let up. Always striving to one-up himself. Never being satisfied with where he was, but always wanting to get better.
I think inside all of us would like to know how we’d fair against different versions of ourselves. Taller, skinnier, younger, stronger, smarter… How would we do?
Look, if we spend all our time trying to compare ourselves against other people, we’re never going to come out on top. There will always be someone stronger, smarter, richer, better looking, etc. no matter what field you’re in or what you’re trying to improve on.
Competing with Yourself is the ONLY way to the top
The fastest way to get to where you want to go is to start competing with yourself, and ONLY yourself.
Trying to lose weight? Exercise for 10 more minutes today than you did yesterday.
Want to finish that best-seller you’re writing? Write a couple more pages today than you did yesterday.
Building your online business? Talk to 2 more people today than you did yesterday.
It’s not that hard, and it doesn’t have to happen overnight. But it will happen, one step at a time, day by day, if you just focus on competing with your main competitor- YOURSELF.
Make it a great day, and as always…
P.S. Speaking of Michael Jordan, here’s a quick post I made about when my little brother and I snuck on to his property over his back fence…just so we could say we’d been to his home. I think we took “fandom” to a whole new level…
Here’s the best way I know to take competing with yourself to a whole new level-
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