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Reach New Heights

By October 11, 2010 13 Comments

I had a friend send me an article about behavior change and reaching your potential.  I took a little piece of it and wanted to share it with you.  This article really challenges me, because I feed off of competition and beating the person next to me.  I don’t like to lose and it spurs me to work harder.  But according to the research I am producing much more stress hormones because of it.

I really like the end of the article when it talks about focusing on what you are doing and pushing your body further than YOU have ever gone before.  Not further than your workout partner, not further than your friend, but further than YOU have gone.  When you do that you can’t be discouraged if someone was better than you because you can  be proud that you experiences another level that you haven’t been to before, and that is very rewarding and fulfilling.

The more I think of it I think comparing can be ok in some situations, but lets look at two examples.  You are in my Fit Fun Bootcamps and you are the strongest and fastest bootcamper.  You aren’t challenged by anyone else around you, and many times this person only works hard enough to beat the person who is the next fastest.  Now take the new Fit Fun Bootcamper who hasn’t exercised in 10 years and they are getting beat badly by everyone around them.  If they compare themselves, they will feel defeated and worthless and want to quit.  In both cases they aren’t reaching their potential.

So I want to challenge myself and you, next time you are working out, don’t check out to see who is doing better than you, and who you are kicking their butt, instead be in tune with your body and ask yourself if you are doing past what you thought was possible.  If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back and keep your chip up high.

The Neuroscience of What’s Possible

By: Robert Cooper, Ph.D

To be sure that our greatest achievements are a series of momentary points on the rising path to what’s possible, and not the beginnings of our decline, we must counteract the deep influence of hard-wired brain tendencies and old habits. Whenever you launch into a competitive mindset, assuming you have to defeat others in order to reach your goals, you are likely to become a victim of that very mindset. Such competitiveness has been shown to waste up to 40 percent of people‟s time at work.  Negative “do or die” competition can inhibit learning and creativity because people in conditions of competition focus solely on the task at hand, paying too much attention to what competitors are doing, comparing themselves to others but not to greater possibilities, and trying to win the favor of those who are judging the contest.

Even thinking competitive thoughts can interfere with best performance and increase the release of negative stress hormones. In studies on athletes, for example, competitive words such as “harder,” “better,” “faster,” and “win” stimulated more than double the normal levels of stress hormones. Researchers recommend that people “abandon competitive thinking during exercise,” because “performance improves when you take pressure off yourself.” In fact, according to one leading scientist of performance, “superior performance not only does not require competition; it usually seems to require its absence.”

Star-performing individuals and teams replace the goal of getting across the finish line ahead of the other person with the aim of going beyond the best they have ever given because doing so matters to them personally and emotionally, for its own sake – their most compelling targets and most amazing future. They make breakthroughs happen by focusing on excelling while everyone else is just competing.

Do you agree or disagree with the article?  What experience have you had with comparing as well as not comparing?  Please respond below.