I’ve always been competitive. I never understood why anyone would want to play a game or sport “just for the fun of it.” My philosophy is that if I’m going to lace up my sneakers and run around for a while, then there had better be a prize or at least major bragging rights involved.

As a young girl, this competitive nature carried me through countless Saturdays of volleyball tournaments and long bus rides around the state. It was the also the reason for more than a few nights of screaming myself hoarse at high school basketball games.

A healthy sense of competition can be a great asset. But, what happens when our competitive nature causes us to feel an overwhelming need to keep up and stay above everyone else in our work, our art, our relationships, or our style?

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All it takes is a scroll through Instagram. There are so many people doing, creating, and cultivating amazing, beautiful things. How often do we see those accomplishments and our hearts twinge with a need to one-up them with a post of our own?

Or when we’re at work and someone else gets acknowledged for their good performance, are we truly happy for them or do we feel a bit of self defeat because we haven’t done anything warranting celebration lately?

Feelings like these, which often lurk undetected beneath the surface, can drive us to a never-ending quest to always stay on top – to look better, do more, achieve greater results, and keep up appearances. And, with that, an intense and often unspoken competition can arise, manifesting itself through malicious gossip, jealousy, insecurity, and sometimes even meanness.

But what happens when our competitive nature causes us to feel an overwhelming need to keep up and stay above everyone else in our work, our art, our relationships, or our style?

But what if, instead of letting ourselves fall victim to the exhausting competition, we embraced the value, differences, unique accomplishments, and praiseworthy endeavors of those around us and sought to empower them even further? What if we, as women, decided to step beside each other instead of trying to always stay one step ahead? What if we locked arms and spoke life into each other with encouraging words, offering grace freely and always speaking up for hope? What if we decided to always speak highly of each other instead of tearing others down so that we might look better.

We empower when we genuinely encourage someone to do what they feel passionate about. It’s giving others permission to try, fail, and learn without fear of judgment or ridicule. It’s affirming someone’s value, worth, desires, and dreams, spurring them on to be the person they were meant to be.

Choosing to come alongside each other must be an intentional daily decision, and there are so many benefits for everyone involved. People begin to flourish when they feel deeply cared for. Relationships that were once flimsy and casual can develop the strongest bonds of trust and love. Chains of hurt, insecurity, and self-doubt can be broken. The damaged places can be healed.

The world can take on an ugly face when everyone is pushing to be first. Yet, when we stop competing and start empowering, we are spreading beauty in so many dark places.

What can you do today to empower someone around you? 

Image via Erin Grimson


4 comments

  1. I am facing this sort of “competitive crossroads” currently… I am finding it comforting, the amount of women that embrace me with my new “band together, celebrate each other” attitude; however, there are also a slew that have made this newfound vulnerability a way to push me down and step over me even more!

  2. Janelle, thank you for your words. This is such a great reminder. Like you said, it really does sneak up on you so I am thankful for words like yours to remind me how important it is to keep myself in check if I want to continue trying to change the competition culture – starting with myself. Things would be so different if we could all TRULY help each other flourish!

  3. This work resonates with a convicting tone concerning my heart position and personality. I am utterly competitive with an inward bent to harbor frustration and feelings of mediocrity. This beautiful reminder to intentionally celebrate the gifts of others is challenging yet freeing.

    http://www.onebrassfox.com

    1. We can all resonate with that to some degree, certainly! Thanks for sharing, Leslie!

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