What is Competitiveness?

There was an interesting video posted recently where a coach makes the point that hard work is not the same as competitiveness, which is a really good point. Here is the video:

I previously wrote a post discussing 'Hard Work'. On THIS post I want to discuss 'Competitiveness'. Firstly, let's quickly note some misconceptions:

You are not either Competitive or Not Competitive

Competitiveness is a spectrum, unsurprisingly, because pretty much everything related to human beings is a spectrum. Different people have different levels of competitiveness. Some levels are occasionally useful in sport, but often negative in sport and life.

You are not Necessarily the same level of competitive in different situations

Competitiveness is situational, like 'Grit'. You can be competitive when there is nothing on the line, but not be competitive when there is. An obvious (and admittedly clumsy) example is that you can be competitive in sport but not care where you place on the Honor Roll, and visa versa.

What is Competitiveness then?

Ok - competitiveness is nuanced and complicated. It is individual and situation specific. But, it is still a thing and it is still a very important thing.

One definition I heard, which I really liked, is that competitiveness is constantly wanting to measure yourself against the person next to you. But, there is more to it than that. It is not just wanting to see if you are better, it is about wanting to beat the person you are measuring yourself against. At a more extreme level it is Needing to beat the person next to you. At the most extreme level, which was attributed to Michael Jordan in 'The Last Dance', there is a need to dominate the person next to you.

So, Competitiveness is about trying to win against whoever you are matched against. It is a very important tool in sport. It means that, all things being equal, someone will win against a less competitive person.

Is it the Key to Success? 

No, there is no key to success. Anyone who tells you there is is just trying to sell you a book or get hired. But it IS a factor. Other Key factors include:

  • Skill
  • Fitness
  • Coaching
  • Hard Work
The most competitive person will win if all things are equal. But things are rarely equal. A more skilful person will beat a competitive person. A harder working person will develop their skills to a level above which the competitive person reaches. A better coached person will have developed skills and fitness that others would not have.

As I said in my previous blog post, whoever is the most competitive person at any given level, has a good chance of winning, but without other traits they will only ever reach that level.

Note: thanks to John, Mark and Liam

(Photo Credit)


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