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We’ve probably all seen this happen before. Success in competition, if not handled properly, can lead to arrogance, to an inability to sympathize or to hard-heartedness. But overall, competition yields positive results; it helps us hone our skill set, build character and become a better version of ourselves.

Some of us are competitive by nature, but we don’t need to say this like it’s a bad thing. In fact, we can use this competitive streak to our advantage. Here are a few tips for doing so.

Evaluate your motives.

Before jumping at the chance to compete, ask yourself your reasons why. Are you vying for a position at work because you want to be acknowledged as the best? Arrogance is not the most becoming attribute. Do you plan to deceive a co-worker so that you receive recognition and he or she does not? Self-confidence isn’t gained by deception. Are you wanting to win just to watch others lose? In the long run, wishing failure on others won’t leave you feeling better about yourself.

In other words, don’t let your motives go bad. Instead, be motivated by the potential to reach personal goals, better yourself and fuel ambition.

Know your purpose.

It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the competitive moment, but it’s important that you remember what drove you to that moment to begin with. Doing so will help you avoid being swept away by competition for competition’s sake alone. It can even help if you consider your purpose in life. What are you passionate about? What are the desires of your heart? What do you want to be remembered for?

Though these are heavy questions, the answers to them will illuminate your purpose for being competitive; they’ll remind you of your heart-driven reasons for competing in the first place (pun intended). There’s certainly nothing wrong with winning, but hopefully our desire to win goes a little deeper than simply wanting to win.

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Work hard.

If you’re a fierce competitor, then you have the ability to be a fierce worker. You’re constantly moving to the next step or figuring out how you can improve. You ask questions like, What degree can I get next? What promotion am I eligible for now? How can I improve my business from here?

Be encouraged to work hard even when you think no one is watching. It is in these moments that positive competition helps us sharpen our character. Get to work on time. Be prepared. Meet deadlines. Or better yet, meet them early. Go above and beyond your call of duty and stay focused on your tasks. Sometimes our perspectives are swayed by those around us or what’s popular at the time, but more often than not, people with unique ideas or a fearlessness to stand alone are the ones who forge ahead.

Be encouraged to work hard even when you think no one is watching. It is in these moments that positive competition helps us sharpen our character.

Learn from failure.

There are two ways to deal with failure. You can let it overtake you or you can overtake it. Should you choose the latter, you offer yourself an opportunity to grow by learning from your mistakes. You likely wish you hadn’t made that mistake, but rather than make it again, learn from it so that you don’t repeat it. Don’t sulk or give up; instead, press on. Failure is never easy, but it’s when we make the best of it that it can benefit us the most.

There are many advantages to competition. Most of all, it pushes you to continually strive to improve because the option of complacency disappears. Competition can make you a better version of yourself, so be encouraged to get out there and mix it up.

Are you naturally competitive? How have you learned to channel that in a positive way?

Images via Tess Comrie

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