Competition in the workplace is often inevitable. And, while some leaderships view competition as a technique to maximize production, the truth is that it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. It’s a good thing to be a dedicated employee and want to produce solid work, but you don’t have to do that at the expense of battling it out with your co-workers.

Compliment vs. Compete 

Think of your peers as a team with each person playing their own position. Notice who excels at what. Instead of comparing your abilities to theirs, make an effort to embrace, honor, and applaud their efforts—chances are, they’ll do the same for you if you set an example.

A solid, well-rounded team flourishes most when there’s a diverse range of skill sets, not to mention a collaborative, supportive work environment.

1890848-steve-young-quote-the-principle-is-competing-against-yourself-it-s-e1553723005683.jpgKnow Your Strength

Think of a space that’s uniquely yours, setting you apart from everyone else at the office. Maybe it’s efficiently pulling and analyzing data, being unshakable in tough conversations with customers, excelling in negotiating prices or possessing a business network with an insurmountable number of contacts. Consider areas where you’ve received compliments, been the go-to expert, or even won awards. It can be really difficult, especially early in your career, to pinpoint what you bring to the table.

If you’re having trouble identifying your top strengths, keep in mind that we often find success in the same areas in which we take delight. The things you genuinely enjoy participating in. Reflect on the moments in which you seem to find yourself in exceptionally high spirits, what types of projects were you working on at that time? Once you recognize your strong suits, embrace cohesiveness over contention by promoting your gifts while partnering with those who compliment your shortcomings.

Know Your “Why”

Consider your “why”, beyond a paycheck and possible promotion, why do you clock in every day? Let this lead you toward setting goals. For example, my “why” is “to equip, empower and support individuals and teams to become their best version of themselves.” That led me to a short-term goal of working with Learning & Development on an “employee roadmap” that starts during the recruiting process and continues all the way to reassignment/ termination/ retirement.

My long-term goal involves demonstrating a direct connection between company culture and revenue growth in order to influence companies do more to positively affect their employees engagement and development, with consistency and intentionality.

Once you begin to better understand yourself, you’ll realize you’re probably aiming toward different goals than your peers, hence eliminating the drive to compete. Of course, in many industries, it may appear you have the same goals on paper as one or more of your colleagues, but remember that there’s a reason two of you (or 10 of you) were hired for this role. Even if you’re trying to accomplish similar things, you’re bringing different skills and ways of doing it to the playing field.

Puzzle Pieces

Consider in what way your individual talents fit into the puzzle that makes your team successful. Alleviate the stress to duplicate by concentrating on pushing your strong points forward which will in turn aid the team. Uncover business problems with solutions that align with your gifts.

Use your distinct skills to modify inefficient and ineffective processes that may be in place. Don’t be afraid to stand out and lend a hand to your peers as teamwork often trumps separation. And remember to record your successes on an up-to-date resume and on your LinkedIn page.

Compete Against You

We’ve all witnessed the toll that stress in the workplace can take on a person’s well-being. There’s value in appreciating the contributions of your colleagues. Instead of competing against each other, we can co-exist by complimenting each other’s abilities with our own.

So rather than comparing yourself to others why don’t you compete against you, the who you are today? That way when you’re at your best you’re still competing against the same person, the who you were yesterday. When you’re at you’re best you don’t compete against other, you compete against what is impossible. And the impossible becomes possible.

Questions of the week:

  • Who do you compare yourself to?
  • What are your greatest fears?
  • What do you currently see as impossible?

Take the time to honestly and thoughtfully answer these questions. Share your thoughts and ideas with your team and your leaders, your family and your friends.

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Kris Klinger is an accomplished visionary and leader. He lives in Downtown Los Angeles and is a staff and faculty member at the University of Southern California. Kris is passionate about nurturing and supporting strong servant-leader and employee-centric cultures. Cultivating transparency and trust; honest and candid communication; personal and professional development; individual and team empowerment. He is also an author working on his first book.

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