I was on the final leg of my third workout of the morning. It was a perfect summer morning and as I pulled up to a red light on my bike I exhaled into a smile. Another rider pulled up beside me. He was over 6 feet tall, muscular and clearly a far more experienced rider than me. We chatted about the day and the beautiful weather until the light changed. As we said our ‘’good days’ in one fluid motion he was nearly a block ahead of me. Without even thinking, I gave chase. I ignored my already weary legs, dug down and began pedaling faster than I ever had (I only took up riding again two months ago). The world around me became a blur as I focused on one thing – catching my opponent.
I did catch up two lights later. This time I came to my senses and my destination and did not give chase when the light changed. I admit, I have a bit of a competitive streak (it’s why I hate the gym, I always want to be the last one standing on the treadmill) but it’s mostly harmless. As I replayed the ride, I realized that trying to keep pace with a more experienced, faster rider had allowed me to push through to a new level. In my quest to keep up with a stronger opponent I had forgotten “my place” and simply rode like the wind.
In the days following my wild ride, I rode faster and harder, because I knew I could. My confidence soared right along with the numbers on my heart rate monitor. I had a new base thanks to my competitor.
People that are better than you are, whether it’s in sports or business, are an essential part of your own growth. If we surround ourselves with people on or below our level we may never know our own capabilities. Challenge yourself to explore your own limits by competing with someone you know is faster, stronger and smarter than you. You may not beat them but you are guaranteed to up your own game.
In business and life, there is never a lack of opponents. While I am not suggesting that we constantly pursue world domination, it is healthy to challenge yourself to compete at a higher level. It is easy to become complacent with our success, especially if we are the top dog in the puppy store. But, it is so satisfying when we push a little harder and discover that we are capable of even more.
Who is stronger, better, faster than you in your industry or job? How can you compete with them in a way that makes you better?