On the surface, competition seems negative. It often makes those involved angry and heated, and is equated with conflict.

Competition comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s a one on one duel of physicality, and sometimes half of an entire country is pitted against the other in a battle of political interests.

Growing up, I hated competition. I was a little brother. When you’re young, 2 years is a big difference, and my brother Eric made sure I knew it. He beat me at everything, and wouldn’t let up. It was demoralizing.

For a long time, I avoided competition because of this. My self-image was that of someone who usually loses. This hurt me on multiple fronts. Not only would I avoid competition in the first place, but when I did find myself competing, I would avoid trying my best because I told myself the carrot at the end of the stick was too far to reach anyways.

This is a common, debilitating mindset. We avoid trying our best so we have an excuse for losing. In short, we are expecting ourselves to lose to avoid future disappointment, and in doing so we refrain from testing our true efforts, skating by on autopilot.

Competition is actually a very positive thing.

It not only requires you to test your own best abilities, but it forces the other person test their best abilities by giving them a true challenge. It is a mutually beneficial exercise.

The very worst thing that you can do for somebody in a competition is to let them win and not give them a true challenge. Doing this is choosing to not truly test them in a way that will help them grow, uncover truth about their own abilities, and realize what they can do to improve themselves.

It’s a beautiful thing when two people are pitted against each other, both exercising the extent of their respective abilities. Competition, in its nature, generates improvement.

It demands the very best effort, solutions, creativity, and innovations.