What Competition Really Means


What Is the COMPETITION Theme

Those with the strength of Competition are the ones in our lives who are instinctually driven to be the best, to be prepared, and to win.  They are improvement-minded and progress-oriented people who constantly track their own performance and compare it against others.  Evaluation and measurement are crucial sources of life-energy to them.  Where comparison is ‘the thief of joy’ for some, for those with Competition it is fuel, a way of being, which draws out their very best.  They are motivated by external and objective forms of assessment: scores, grades, rankings, and ratings.  For them, there is an excitement in facing-off that gets them operating at peak levels.  Knowing that someone wants what they want enlivens them, brightens their senses and seems to sharpen their skills.  They love to be put to the test and to prove what they can do.  What this means is that they are always tracking and preparing, always thinking and strategizing, always visualizing and evaluating for when they are actually competing.  This is a way of saying that people with the Strength of Competition are always ‘on’, alert, and aware.  They remind us that we cannot evaluate or assess what we cannot measure.  And, that matters because that which we measure we can improve upon.  They give us a concrete system for growth and hold the world to a high standard.

Why Should We Care

Competition, while perceived generally as an action-strength, is really a mental one—a way of thinking, being, and seeing.  It is primarily a worldview and only secondarily a way of doing.  People with this strength are very capable of working well with others, especially in leadership roles and on teams.  In collaboration, they are skilled at identifying exactly what is at stake so that folks have something tangible to rally around.  For this reason, they naturally seem to know what motivates individuals and groups.  They are also intuitive, deft evaluators of human performance and talent—they usually have a lot of heart.  People with this strength are constantly asking, “How am I doing?”  They are always keeping track and have a deep need to know how they compare and where they rank relative to the rest.  This matters because they have huge radar screens and seem to be aware of everyone else’s progress as well, which makes them excellent leaders, motivators, and influencers.  They can be incredibly inspiring and push others to be their best and to perform at the height of their capabilities.  People with the strength of Competition push us to dig deep, find our true potential, and go for it.  They inspire us along the way and remind us that we all do better when we all do better.

Ten Things to Know About People with COMPETITION

1. Everything. It is likely that they will compare their performance to others in every area of life—even if this is done so quietly or in the privacy of their own mind.  This means that they may inject a surprisingly competitive element into otherwise leisurely activities like clearing their plate at dinner, three-legged races at birthday parties, or friendly board games.  Others may remark on their “intensity’ in these situations.

2. Losing. This can be a difficult and uncomfortable topic for them.  If not properly channeled, it can feel like a deep, even physical wounding.  The art for them is to digest any loss by framing it as an opportunity to learn and identify areas for improvement.

3. Celebrating. Taking time to savor the victory can be the best part for them.  They may relive wins in their minds over and over—not out of arrogance, instead as a way of honoring the part of themselves that was fully expressed in those moments.

4. Letting You Win. It is extremely unlikely that they would ever let someone win—adult or child—in a game or competition, regardless of how casual the setting or trivial it may seem.  Winning is life for them.

5. Depression. People with this strength need to feel pushed on a regular basis.  Going too long without a worthy challenge can actually be internalized in a way that looks and feels like depression.  They can lose touch with the life-giving core elements of themselves, which are activated in competition.

6. Connection. They will not settle for simply what comes along when it comes to their deep relationships—for them, it’s quality over quantity.  And, because they goal-oriented or finishline-minded, the idea of hanging-out and doing nothing generally does not appeal to them.

7. Analytics. In the absence of an external or formal system of measurement, they may invent their own ways of tracking progress.  This could be with a number system, tally, or a spreadsheet.  Don’t be surprised if you find them evaluating almost everything and look for ways of improving upon what they find.

8. Fun. Doing things ‘for the fun of it’ likely doesn’t appeal to them.  In fact, if probably doesn’t make any sense to them—their response being something akin to “Why bother?”  They always play to win, in everything.  Hard, grueling work or grinding out a project on a tight deadline might be what fun feels like to them.

9. Ties. People with competition have a need for definite outcomes, and ties will likely feel like some sort of limbo where an actual decision hasn’t been and won’t ever be made.  In that way, a tie may be worse than a loss for them.

10. Love. Finding someone who challenges them and pushes them to be the best is highly attractive to them.  They generally look for others who, too, have a drive that differentiates them from the pack.  Ambition magnetic for them.

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Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com

His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world.  He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.