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How to stop competing in business

I Run Faster On My Own

I started a small running club in 2012 – just a group of colleagues and friends, each with our own health and fitness plans, but the end goal being to run the Two Oceans half marathon.

Now I’ve never been a sporty gal, so I knew I would only be leading the pack in administration and not in stride. I knew I would be slow. I knew they would run harder and faster than I can. I knew I would get tired quicker and look more awkward with my, what my friend Sarah once called, Quasimodo running style. Ultimately, I knew, that compared to the others, this would be a tougher challenge for me.

And I wasn’t wrong. Over our months of training together, I was indeed the slowest.

Some training days I would contemplate just stopping half way – I mean what was the point? It seemed so much easier for everyone else. But the goal was the goal!

Then the day arrived. My friend Warren and I met the rest of the group on a freezing and gloomy Cape Town morning. After about 3 nervous pre-run wees, I stood at the starting line ready for my big race. Just as quickly as the race started, so too did our group break up. It was now each runner for themselves. Just me and my breath. Just me and my thoughts. Just me and Foo Fighters “Wheels” (once I sneakily got my iPod out from my cleavage as you’re not supposed to run with earphones in). But before I knew it, it was me and the start of torrential downpour. 2kms in and I was so drenched that my iPod stopped working. Now what? Just me, listening to my short breath for 19 more km.

I stood on the side of the road trying to fix my iPod and had a little cry (which at this point had zero affect on my mascara as the rain belting against my face had already done a pretty good job). I then put my big girl panties on and started to run. I ran Forest Gump style. I just ran. I ran while my drenched clothes sucked tightly against my body, I ran as my inner sole slid out my water-logged shoe. I ran as my toe nail started pulling off. And I ran across the finish line, while my shoe stayed lodged in the mud underneath me. (True story, I had to hop back to fetch my shoe).

I had done it!!! I had finished the race!

I walked on over to the designated “K” area, where we had all discussed we would meet after the race. Where was everyone though? They had promised they would wait for me. Perhaps it was too cold and they left. Without a phone, I sat for a while feeling quite anxious about how I was going to find everyone, and to be honest, a little peeved that they weren’t there.

About 10 minutes later my one friend ran up to me and said he’d just finished. What!? I made it before him? We then waited another few minutes for the next lot and even longer for the rest.

It seems that the horrendous weather was less of a hurdle for me than my mind. What I realized about myself that day, is that I run faster on my own. When I only have myself to compete with, and I’m not constantly comparing myself to the  person I know next me, I let myself achieve much more.

Unusual? Perhaps. For some, they might need the push of wanting to compete with their peers. This doesn’t work for me.  An insight into Jeni that’s helped me in life ever since and has affected how I run my business.

I scroll through social media and am constantly confronted with the successes of my peers. I attend awards shows and start feeling insecure about my lack of golden birds on the shelf. Continually comparing my ideas, creative solutions, work and business to others doesn’t encourage me, it hinders me. It takes the focus off my agency goals and keeps my focus on others’.

Now don’t get me wrong… I am in NO way saying that you shouldn’t keep up-to-date with what’s happening in your industry or watch what your contemporaries are up to. What I AM saying, is start comparing apples with apples. In case I’m losing you – you are the apple… both apples! Compare yourself to your last action, your last presentation, your last job… even the last words your spoke… now better that! Each and every time. Let that be the challenge.

Challenge yourself to up your own game, to constantly push harder and finish stronger than you did in the past.

Be fiercely competitive with yourself and rather learn from your peers with a generous spirit; one that enables you to genuinely celebrate their wins without diminishing your own efforts or achievements (as that’s when the green monster sets in).

So if you’re like me and you run faster on your own, just make sure you stay in the race. Keep working on your own unique stride and your performance will follow – you’ll dazzle, not only your clients, but yourself too!

2 Comments
  • Vicki Hammon
    Posted at 06:58h, 30 May Reply

    Brilliant piece. I am exactly like that and I forget every now and then and listen to all the talking do the comparing etc. it work if I compare me to me than I can thrive

    • Jeni-Anne Campbell
      Posted at 08:21h, 05 June Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Vicki:) Here’s to healthy competition!

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