Where’s your competition?
Did she close a deal you were hoping to close yourself? Did he gain one thousand followers on Instagram in the time you gained one hundred? Are they closing clients when you hit half your revenue goal last month? Or are you just sitting back in shock, wondering how the HELL they have more customers, more followers, more PR, more videos, or a higher growth rate than you—when come ON, their product isn’t THAT GOOD to begin with.
I’m a big fan of competition. I work in marketing, so competition ensures I have clients. I ran college track, so competition essentially paid my tuition. But there is the finest of lines between being a competitive, driven individual, and allowing it to be your greatest downfall.
Because there are only so many hours in a day, and it’s hard enough to accomplish our own goals in the time we’re given. That time decreases drastically when we waste it worrying about the success of those around us.
And when you stop and think about it, it really shouldn’t matter.
Have tunnel vision.
When I ran high school track, we rarely practiced indoors due to bad weather. We ran outside, in negative temperatures, and I will never know how my coach never got sued.
As the season progressed and we got closer and closer to the state meet, our coach ordered us to run sprints inside. It made zero sense. The state meet was in May. If we survived running through three feet of snow at the beginning of the season, we would have been just fine running through humidity at the end.
But sprints inside had nothing to do with temperatures. Trust me, my coach gave zero fucks about how comfortable we were during practice.
Sprinting through a high school hallway is like running through a tunnel. You run in a single file line. If you pass someone walking, I guarantee they pivot and press themselves against the wall.
If you want to create an environment with zero distractions—no boys’ track team playing football on the infield, no cars honking, no teachers screaming to get off the road and onto the shoulder, no teammates practicing handoffs in adjacent lane, no busses to weave around—sprinting through a hallway is it.
As we got closer to the meet that mattered most, that is precisely how my coach wanted us to train. Remember, I wasn’t a football linebacker where the person across me could knock me out—I ran track. My competition was in her own, isolated lane next to me. While trying to shake her off my right shoulder was more motivating than running a race alone, she had very little to do with how well I performed. In fact, I was better off ignoring her altogether.
The only person who influenced how my race turned out, was me.
And in a twisted, psychological mind game (that all great coaches seem to play on athletes), that’s what my coach made known. He timed us in hallways to create tunnel vision. Prior to meets, never once did he allow us to look at entry times of other athletes—because it didn’t matter. He knew top performance weighed on how loudly we could drown out the negative voices inside our own heads—not how stacked or lagging the competition.
And while I had many great races where I got the baton deep in the pack and chased my competition down one by one, other times I got the baton in first. Those times it was just me against the clock, with the race decided (in our favor) before my leg. Those were the times we went after something bigger—like a state record or similar—and it was my mental battle to lose. Reaching our goal had nothing to do with the other teams, and everything to do with how far I could push myself—with absolutely nothing around me.
This is your mental battle to lose.
It is up to you to see just how far you can push yourself, no matter what the hell goes on around you. Your biggest competition is yourself, overcoming your insecurities, telling yourself you got this, and no matter what roadblocks or setbacks you face—it is you who must refocus and piece your shit back together.
Have tunnel vision. Put the blinders on. Lessen the world around you to mere noise. Whatever you work toward, it is your mental battle to lose. Do not distract yourself by whatever your competition is doing, because they’re in their own lane and cannot step foot into yours.
It is hard enough to conquer everything we want to do in a day, let alone keep tabs on everyone else. You will go further by focusing on how far you push yourself, rather than getting caught up on what your competition is doing.