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Competition Inspires Performance

Finally, summer is officially here!  The warm weather and fun outside activities are beckoning, and we are moving into a traditionally slower paced season.  Sometimes it’s hard to find motivation for anything other than be out in the sun and enjoying the fun.  Then winter comes with gray, cold and usually damp weather, and it’s hard to get motivated.  Finding motivation is hard; we’ve certainly learned that over the last few years.  But it’s important to remember that motivation fuels success.  It’s what keeps us moving towards our goals and what leads to our accomplishments.

I recently learned that there are two types of motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic, and they are interwoven.  If you add competition in the mix, it becomes complex and interesting. Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards or incentives, e.g., recognition, money, or material possessions.  In contrast, intrinsic motivation is internally driven from personal satisfaction, enjoyment, and a sense of fulfillment derived from the activity itself.

Competition is a key influence on both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. In competitive settings, most of us strive to outperform others, driven by the desire for external recognition and rewards. The presence of competitors can push us to set ambitious goals, improve our skills, and maintain focus and dedication. Competition can enhance intrinsic motivation, as many of us find joy in pushing boundaries and growing personally in the pursuit of excellence.  For some of us, competition inspires our internal willpower and stubbornness.  In other words, competition feeds motivation which drives performance.

Years ago, when I was deep into my CrossFit journey, all this aligned perfectly. The drive to attend classes and improve my fitness served as my extrinsic motivation, while the bond I formed with my fellow classmates provided a strong intrinsic push. We became a tight-knit community, constantly encouraging and challenging one another. Within our class, there was a fellow member who shared a similar level of fitness, and we naturally found ourselves in friendly competition. It became a race against the clock as we pushed ourselves to complete the Workout of the Day (WOD) in record time. But it didn’t stop there. We also competed against ourselves, striving to lift heavier weights and surpass our previous personal bests with each workout. It was a perfect blend of external and internal motivation, constantly fueled by the exhilaration of healthy competition. The combination of extrinsic rewards, intrinsic joy, and friendly rivalry became the driving force behind our progress, pushing us to reach new levels of strength and endurance. The CrossFit box became our playground of motivation, where sweat, camaraderie, and the desire for self-improvement intertwined seamlessly.

So back to summer, winter and all the factors that may cause us to lose motivation.  It’s important to remember that to use the power of motivation effectively, there must be a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic drive and competition. So instead of telling yourself that it’s summer and you will get to your task later, find the competition and embrace it.  Maybe someone else has or previously did the same task, or maybe you’ve done it before and would like to beat your time, quality, etc., whatever it may be. A little friendly competition may be just what you need to get out of the summer slump!  Remember, competition feeds motivation which drives performance.  You just need to take that first step and the rest will follow.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

What will you compete with this weekend?