When did the word ‘competition’ become such a dirty word. For women?

Competition means many things to many people. Sportsmanship competitiveness, striving to win the race – a good thing. Competitive in business as a man, pretty good, right? A competitive woman? Mixed reviews.

I took a Gallup Strength Finders Test in 2015 and my number two strength was Competitive. Futuristic was #1 in case you’re wondering.

I retook the same test two years on, and yep, number two remained. (Although my #1 skill had changed to Strategic)

In both instances post-test, when sharing the results with people in conversation, I got the same responses. Not a ‘great you’re competitive, go out there and slay the world’ but, ‘Oh…. that is interesting that you’re competitive, who are you competing against in your world/workplace/office/team? You know, ‘those’ type comments.

Oh, you’re one of those women? –Interestingly I’ve only ever had that response from other women who are ready and willing to shoot you down. Yes, it might only have been 7 or 8 of them but the comments stung like soap in the eyes.

Between March 2015 and January 2017, I questioned if being a competitive person was a bad thing. I questioned myself on it over and over, because I wondered if it alienated other people or if it made be difficult to work with. So, I started interviewing other competitive people on the subject- what makes them tick, why were they competitive, what did they want to win? And I’ve become slightly obsessed with watching videos on YouTube with some of my favourite icons who are also naturally competitive to try and figure this out.

What I realised is all the people I interviewed, including myself, weren’t competing with others. No sir. We are all competing with ourselves.

Every day I wake up and think ‘what can I do today that I couldn’t yesterday…’ and ‘what results can I hit on’ as if it were a competitive game with myself.

That is exactly how the other people I interviewed described their competitive strengths. Competing against colleagues, friends and family never once came up, and we had honest, baring-your-soul type conversations, including where the competitive nature comes from in a Freudian type analysis of ourselves. Fun.

Because she competes with no one, nobody can compete with her -Girl Boss

Last night I was speaking to a fantastic fundraiser who I coach- (while we’re on the subject about this woman, let me tell you, she is going places.) Anyway, at the end of the coaching call, we ended up speaking about sport, neither of us were sporty as kids, but we loved winning. We were both captains of teams in school, despite not actually enjoying sport, and it wasn’t even about winning a particular thing, it was just the ‘game’ we played in our own minds challenging ourselves to see what we could achieve .

When I did IWITOT back in 2015 it was never about competing with the other speakers, I applied to speak at IWITOT because I absolutely hated, I mean utterly despised, public speaking. I sat down one day with a friend and they mentioned that I should enter. I laughed, my hands went sweaty in fear and anxiety, but then I realised that they were right, I should apply to speak to challenge and compete with myself to see if it was something I could achieve and do.

I won the audience vote for IWITOT for best idea, completely unexpectedly. To this day the bottle of champagne (which was the prize) still sits on my office shelf unopened as a reminder of what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. After IWITOT people commented on how well I spoke, but what they didn’t realise was I rehearsed my IWITOT audition, and talk every night for 5 months solid. Every.Single.Night.

I later heard this phrase which I now live by:

It's what you practise in private, that you will be rewarded for in public - Tony Robbins

If any of this resonates with you, or if you want to start competing with yourself to get amazing results here are my top tips.

1. Remember being competitive is a strength. It’s not something to be embarrassed about, so long as you are competing healthily. Compete with yourself, not with others.
2.  Work out what it is you REALLY want. Think really hard about this, listen to yourself hard. Whatever it is that fires you up, something you crave and want, make that your competitive goal. If you want something that bad, use all of your competitive energy to work out how to get it.
3. As a fundraiser, compete with yourself and set your own KPI’s and targets. I do this all the time. I have my own goals that run along side my ‘actual’ KPI’s. For example this year I wanted to smash 90% of one of my annual targets in 4 months, and I did just that.

4. “Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded”
This has to be one of my all time favourite quotes. What can you be doing to show up, keep moving and strive towards your own personal goals? Make a plan, write down ideas, photograph stuff

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