Internal And External Competition - Where Is Your Focus?
I live in a very competitive house. My wife and I don't really play games together because neither of us like to lose so it tends to get a little too tense. Being great parents and all we have passed that competitive spirit down to our kids, who all stomped off after losing in a kids vs. parents Pictionary grudge match. My girls also dance so they have had it ingrained early from their very first dance competition. Competition is just a part of life.
Competition is funny though because it can be a good thing, but if taken too far or not looked at correctly it can become a problem. You see on any team you have internal competition and external competition. For instance in sports, you have competition on a team where you have to see first who is going to make the team, then when you figure out who your starters are going to be. So the competition is also your teammate. When you are teammates you then need to work together to beat the competition. Whether you are the starter or the backup, you are united in a goal to beat the external competition.
The problem we see far too often is we tend to expend more energy on internal competition and not enough on the external. When all of your focus and energy is spent comparing and competing with people who are supposed to be on the same side as you, you find there isn't enough left in the tank or you become far too distracted to look towards the external.
Great leaders, managers and coaches are those who can find a balance. They need to know what a healthy level of internal competition is in order to push people to continue to improve. But also know how to keep more of the focus on the external competition. Remembering to never let the internal competition deteriorate your team.
We have the competition part down in our house, now to just make sure they understand which competition is the most important. We'll see how we are progressing on the next game night.