Society thrives on one-upmanship. In everything we do, whether we realize it or not, we set a bar. And as we set the bar, more often than not, we try and improve upon whatever it is we are doing. Sometimes this just happens and we become accidental goal setters. However, there are certain things and times in our life when we become intentional about setting the bar and even raising the bar.
Whatever it is we did, we know that with some extra effort we can do it bigger, better, faster, higher, or farther. If we are a hardwired competitor, we look at what others around us are doing and immediately think the same thing, don’t we? If they can do it, then I am sure I can crush it. Does this happen because we are fascinated with winning or because we are compelled by competition?
Game on. The race is on. The heat is on. Bring it on. These are the things we say or the voice that we hear in our head when we are faced with a challenge, even if the challenge is self-imposed. Conceivably there is no competition because the other person, team, or company has no idea that we have become determined, and have set out to not only raise the bar but raise it so high that no one will ever catch us.
Sometimes this is exactly what we need to break out of a slump or reignite our passion. We need something to chase. We need a goal, a quota, or a target that forces us out of our comfort zone and into our “Go Zone” so we can go bigger, better, faster, higher, farther in whatever it is we are pursuing.
Then again, sometimes it’s OK to let others go ahead, and go as far and as fast as they please. Last week I was driving on the highway and staying in the flow of traffic when I looked in the rearview mirror to see another car bobbing and weaving through traffic. He flew by me doing at least 15-20 miles per hour faster than the rest of us. However, competition does seem to get the better of us sometimes, and suddenly, a few other cars picked up the pace, trying to match the speed of the lead car.
There was a time in my life where I would have felt that same pull and let my pride get the better of me. Thankfully, the wisdom of maturity has conquered my foolish pride and I sat back and let them all pass. As we rounded the next bend, there were a few state troopers waving the drivers over to the side of the road. There was no moment spent gloating over their demise as I have had my share of speeding tickets in this life. In this case it was better to let others go faster.
Continuing my drive, it gave me time to reflect on the bigger, better, faster, higher, and farther concept. I thought about the many times that I had said, “I can do that better than they can. I can go bigger than that.” And once again it humbled me because over the years, I have learned that there is always someone or something bigger, better, smarter, and faster than me. Rushing into competing is the equivalent of taking a “Fire, Aim, Ready” approach. On one hand it is great to be motivated to pursue a goal or target. On the other hand, sometimes prudence really is the better part of valor.
Have you ever found yourself getting caught up in the moment and feeling the need to demonstrate your superiority in a situation? Conversely, have you experienced the rewards of making sure that you were in the best position possible before moving forward? As always, I would love to hear your story at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can choose those moments where it would serve us best to go bigger, better, faster, higher, and farther, it really will be a better than good year.
Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.
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