There are three things that people notice about me immediately when meeting me in person: I am short, blond and petite. One of the first personal traits they notice about me or pick up on is that I am competitive.
I was raised by an amazing father who encouraged me in everything I did and never introduced the idea that my gender was a factor. This is the man that told me as a young girl that I could do anything a boy could do, except pee on a tree. Tell a five year old that and it sticks.
My neighborhood was filled with boys, my friends throughout adulthood have mostly been men and I raised boys. I am competitive. I do not apologize for this. Often competitiveness is seen as an undesirable quality in a woman. Like we are not supposed to want or desire certain success, stature, degrees, opportunities or ideals.
I have always found competitiveness to be a welcome trait until it isn’t. Do you know when it crosses that line from a good thing to a bad thing? When I win.
I do not take this trait to an extreme. I don’t’ go around challenging people to arm wrestling contests or make everything a no holds bar competition. Partly it is a natural tendency I keep in check and the rest of the time I use it as a fuel.
When I first entered the financial industry my boss told me that I needed to get my Series 7 in my first year and “then we’ll see if you can get your 9 and 10.” That was a gauntlet to me. The competitiveness in me took over. A competition was created within myself.
I earned my 7, 63, 65, 9 and 10 in my first year. Tell me we’ll see.
There are times that we get stuck. Whether it be looking for a new job, moving up in our current company, building our book of business or building a company we just get stuck. It is frustrating and can be debilitating. When I have found myself in the stuck places, I just want to look around and say, “I need a kick”.
So I give it to myself. I think of something, a goal, that I want to accomplish then I give myself a time period. I make it a competition within my own mind. It helps, yet there are times that it loses steam. Now I have something even better.
I have a competitive boyfriend.
We are in two completely unique and different industries and positions. We have started a friendly competition throughout the week. We set our goals and then it is game on. There are a lot of updates and “eat my dust” texts through the week. On the weekend, there is a lot of celebration of individual accomplishments. And a small victory dance.
Competition raises your bar. It helps you boost your performance, stay sharp and stay on your A Game. You suddenly find time to do the things you need to do but maybe do not want to because you are now accountable. If you don’t win, it is on you. What do you want, what have you done today to get it?
There are no excuses at the end of the week, either we make our goal or we don’t. Neither one of us is the type to say, “I would have hit it if this would have happened.” There are too many what if’s we cannot control; all we can control is our actions and reactions.
When you are going after a prospect or potential job lead put it in your mind that you are not their only candidate. You have competition. They will be comparing you to someone else to choose the best candidate or service provider. You want that to be you. You want to give it your A Game and leave nothing on the table.
When it is just you in the running you might unconsciously slowdown in the final stretch thinking it is a lock. When there is someone close behind you, that’s when you give it that final push to make sure you cross the line first.
I am not suggesting that when you go on an interview and see other candidates or leave a prospects office and see the next service provider ready to pitch their gig you tell them to eat your dust. Ok, you can say it, just don’t use your out-loud voice.
What I am suggesting instead is to create that competition in your mind with every touch you have with a client, prospect, network connection or job prospect. Know that after you hang up the phone they are going to talk to someone else. Enlist a friend to create a competition. Not necessarily competing against each other but who will hit their goal.
Competition is a great tool to make sure you walk out of every interview, client meeting and hang up every call knowing you were true to yourself, true to your value and true to your craft – and that is how you win before ever getting that acceptance call.