I bet you get pulled into this kind of destructive, competitive thinking


I’ve taken my teen daughter and her friend camping (in the rain), and I don’t really know how the camper works plus I have significant parking anxiety.

Did I mention the rain? ⛈️

I went for an early morning swim feeling much impressed with myself and aiming to stay for an hour of meditative front crawl.

Then I noticed another person in the pool.

Could I swim faster than them?

When I was consistently half a length ahead, I noticed I was out of breath and tense, so I let it go.

Back to meditation. 🏊‍♀️

Then I started counting my strokes and trying to reduce them. Dammit, tense again.

Back to meditation (with gritted teeth) and I was only 20 minutes in.

I wondered how long the other person was going to swim for. I couldn’t get out before them.

I got into my stride (or is that stroke) and started to relax. .🏊‍♀️

But I had half an eye on her. Why wasn’t she finishing? Couldn’t she tell I was worrying about whether there’d be any pastries left in the campsite shop?

Then I just stopped.

I’d swum for 45 minutes and enjoyed about 7 of them.

This type of competitive thinking isn’t healthy for me– making comparisons with other people is just destructive most of the time.

But I need competition to motivate myself sometimes.

So I’ve come up with a different measure for tomorrow’s swim that’s nothing to do with clock-watching or comparisons.

I’m going to set a distance and swim it however long it takes.

Being competitive is part of my success – so I’m trying hard to be kind to myself.

If you’re interested in better leadership, creating high performance habits and being the best version of yourself I bet you’ve fallen into this trap too.

Here’s what I do when I notice it happening: 

  • Change the measures  – like in the example above
  • Consider what actions the future version of myself wants me to take (rather than obsessing about an award winning author 🤦‍♀️or leadership guru)
  • Remember the mantra ‘stop comparing your insides to their outsides’
  • Collaborate – a team will normally out perform an individual

And if this kind of thinking never happens to you – let me know your secret and I will share it with this community so we can all benefit!