Use Competitiveness Wisely

Some situations call for sincere humility. Learn how to deflate that ego and win without being too aggressive.
by Victoria Lucia
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There are times when being competitive works to your advantage—like when you’re vying for a promotion. “An aggressive attitude drives you to accomplish your goals,” says Alan Goldberg, EdD, director of Competitive Advantage in Amherst, Massachusetts. “But it’s dangerous when a dog-eat-dog mentality takes over.” Here, tips on how to strike the right balance:

Rate the importance. Decide what’s worth investing competitive energy in. “Everyone has different ideas of what’s rewarding,” notes Goldberg. “But generally, if it’s something petty—like losing a little more weight than a friend—you probably won’t experience true happiness as a result.”

Avoid ego-association. “Highly ambitious people base their self-worth on whether or not they win,” says Goldberg. “But pressuring yourself to be the best is anticlimactic—no one’s perfect.” Plus, if you’re that driven by success, you’re probably neglecting relationships. His advice? “Base your ego, at least in part, on more important things, such as values and family.”

Focus on the process.
“Pay attention to what you enjoy about the situation,” adds Goldberg—e.g., playing badminton with a friend versus kicking her ass. You might not completely banish thoughts of winning—it is fun—but at least you won’t gyp yourself out of the actual experience.

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