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Justin Wright

Monday Velocity - Embracing Internal Competition

Published about 2 months ago • 3 min read

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Embracing Internal Competition

In the relentless pursuit of personal and professional excellence, we often find ourselves looking sideways, gauging our progress against others. However, true growth and fulfillment stem not from outpacing others but from outdoing our previous selves. The transformative power of competing with oneself, shifting from external validation to internal drive, is the secret sauce.

The allure of comparison is undeniable. It offers a tangible metric, a clear benchmark against which we can measure our strides. Yet, this external competition is fraught with pitfalls—jealousy, discouragement, and a distorted sense of self-worth. When we fixate on surpassing others, we tether our aspirations to a variable outside our control, one that fluctuates as wildly as the ambitions and achievements of our peers.

Conversely, competing with oneself nurtures a growth mindset, where the focus shifts from winning to improving. This internal competition is about setting personal benchmarks and striving to exceed them, fostering a continuous cycle of self-improvement. It’s about acknowledging where you are, understanding where you've been, and pushing towards where you want to be.

Take, for instance, the journey of a novice writer. Initially, their drafts might be riddled with errors, the prose clumsy and the narrative boring. With each rewritten draft, each piece of feedback, and each new story, they refine their skills. The true measure of their progress isn’t against the works of Hemingway or Rowling but against their earlier works. Did they craft a better character arc than their last story? Is their dialogue more natural? This introspective approach allows them to appreciate their growth trajectory without the shadow of comparison darkening their achievements.

Internally driven individuals operate on the principle of "personal bests". They harness their past performances as motivators, not as ceilings but as springboards to greater heights. This method of self-competition builds resilience, as setbacks are seen not as failures but as opportunities for learning and growth. It cultivates a persistence that is immune to the ups and downs of external validation.

Internal competition enriches our journey with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. When we strive to improve ourselves, every small victory is a building block towards a larger goal. The joy comes not just from achieving the goal but from the process of getting there. This intrinsic motivation is sustainable, propelling us forward even when external accolades are absent.

It is also worth noting that by focusing on competing with ourselves, we inadvertently become better companions, colleagues, and leaders. Freed from the chains of comparison, we can genuinely celebrate the successes of others without feeling diminished by them. This fosters healthier relationships and a more supportive environment, both personally and professionally.

While the external world continues to bombard us with messages of competition and comparison, the most rewarding and sustainable success comes from within. By competing with ourselves, we not only achieve our goals but also discover the true essence of fulfillment. Let this internal drive be your guiding star, and watch as you not only meet but exceed your own expectations, crafting a life of continual growth and satisfaction.


Hit List

The best things I've encountered this week:

What I'm reading: "101 Additional Advices" by Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly finds a way to distill meaningful information down into a simple and digestible format. Everything he posts is worth its weight in gold, and this list is no different. If you have the time, explore some of his other popular blog posts including the infamous "1,000 true fans."

What I'm also reading: "Wellness Is Simpler Than You Think" by Jessica Stillman

This article explores a simple method for long-term wellness that was originally created by Martin Seligman, former president of the American Psychological Association. The PERMA method, as it's called, says wellness can be achieved by focusing on positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishment.


Screenshot of the Week:


Quote of the Week:

"Well-being cannot exist just in your own head. Well-being is a combination of feeling good as well as actually having meaning, good relationships and accomplishment.”- Martin Seligman


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Justin Wright

Former chemist, former pro athlete, and current film producer sharing the lessons I've learned along the way.

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