Competition is healthy when it stays within its proper boundaries and does not venture into the realm of compulsion. It includes honest effort and a fair use of skill. Anything less than honest effort and fair use of skill turns competition into the realm of the unhealthy.
In unhealthy competition, the goal is not to find a way for you to be better but to find a way for others to be worse.
There are generally two reasons a man turns competition into a compulsion:
He develops a reliance on the zing, the sheer physical thrill that happens during competition. There is a physiological reaction that takes place while doing something risky or dangerous. And for competition to be truly competitive, there needs to be an element of risk and possible danger, even if it’s simply getting your pride hurt or getting knocked on your butt.
He sees competition as a way to satisfy a need for dominance. Yes, it’s fun and exciting to play, but it can be even more fun and exciting to win. For some men, it’s not enough just to play the game and let the chips fall where they may. For these men, it’s not about the playing; they are obsessed with winning. They want to be the best at everything.
Types of compulsive competitors include:
The Cheater. This is the man who, quite simply, cheats. He is not a man of his word, yet he portrays himself as a man of integrity.
The Constant Competitor. This is the man who constantly competes about seemingly everything. He’s playing the odds that if he keeps at it long enough, he’ll either win at the next random wager or you’ll just get tired of the whole thing and just move on.
The Backstabber. This is the man who engage in all-out competition but never out int he open. Instead, he maneuvers behind your back, looking for advantages, sniffing out weaknesses, planning the best time for him and the worst time for you to strike.
Think of two personal situations:
A time when you were unfair to someone else
A time when someone was unfair to you
What can you learn about yourself, the other person, and life in general through these situations? If you had each to do over again, what would you do differently?
The above is excerpted from chapter 8 in Battles Men Face: Strategies To Win the War Within by Dr. Gregory Jantz.