Being competitive isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Chris Judd reflects on how a healthy sense of competition encourages growth – as long as you don’t get carried away.

Chris Judd

Chris Judd

Chris Judd is a former AFL footballer and twice winner of the Brownlow Medal.

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Competitiveness has got a bad rap in recent years. To get ahead in the world, you need to be better than other people at things. That’s just a fact, isn’t it? Unfortunately, these days, competition often seems to be linked with jealousy. But they’re two separate things. Just because you’re competitive, doesn’t mean that you need to be jealous or resentful when you lose, and that’s a key point of difference.

Overcoming fear of failure

When I’m talking to my kids after they’ve lost a competition, I try to ask them about the feelings that arise post-defeat – as opposed to criticising the sense of competitiveness itself. It’s a healthy thing to try and strive to improve in life, and competition is a great motivator for that. What defines you is how you respond to failure. That’s where this anti-competitiveness comes from – it’s people choosing how they deal with their fears.

Football clubs are constantly educating players to understand and learn from failed experiences, whether it be a loss or a poor individual performance. You’re always going to learn more from your failures than your wins. That’s just human nature. If you come out on top you’re usually not as driven to analyse what happened and learn from it as closely as you would post-defeat – your natural reaction is to congratulate yourself on how warm and fuzzy you’re feeling.

Defeat represents an opportunity to learn and to grow – that’s the practicality of losing. If you don’t get something you want – whether that’s a win, or a job, or a new relationship – it’s okay to feel a short period of loss. But once that period becomes extended, then it’s no longer productive. Those feelings of loss will just keep appearing if you let them. Or in the words of a business mentor of mine from WA, ‘you get 24 hours to sook, then it’s time to move on’.

Make your #onechange

If you’ve experienced a recent competitive loss, challenge yourself to objectively evaluate the reasons why. You’ll be surprised by what you can learn.

Learning how to lose

While I don’t think there’s a wrong way to feel after losing, there’s definitely a wrong way to act. A loss is only a failure if it leads to a lack of trying when it comes to the next time around. Competitiveness can also lead to transformational change. Seeing people that you know achieving things that they’ve set out to do can be inspiring. Especially when you know that they’re human and just as fallible as you. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, that inspiration is at least partly driven by healthy competitiveness.

Ultimately, I think that that competition is positive as long as you’re using it to rise yourself up, rather than bring other people down – that’s when you know it’s gone the right way.

Chris Judd

Former Australian Rules footballer Chris Judd is familiar with how to get your heart rate up and push yourself physically. Twice winner of the prestigious Brownlow Medal, Chris is an honoured sportsman and father to four children, Oscar, Billie, Tom and Darcy. The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.

The information in this article is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional, tax or other advice. It does not take into account any individual’s personal situation or needs. You should consider obtaining professional advice from a financial adviser and/or tax specialist, or medical or health practitioner, in relation to your own circumstances and before acting on this information.