John C. Maxwell said “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perspective of failure.” Did you know that you don’t have to finish FIRST to be a WINNER? The person with the silver medal may have put more effort into the competition than the one wearing the gold. The difference is in the spirit of competition.

Competition isn’t something you have to fear. Competition is only dangerous when it is the driving factor in your life—when you are consumed with it and by it. On the plus side, it can actually fuel your dreams and bring them to a reality.

1. Competition can fuel your learning.

You’ll never lose by gaining more information. Competition may send you to the resource center. Go for it! How many print, online, or audio books are you consuming each month? Gaining knowledge doesn’t always pay off in the first race, but it will certainly equip you for the next one.

2. Competition can fuel your self-image.

If you finish first, fine. But if you don’t, and still finish ahead of another, your self-image is the hands-down winner. You are what you can do better than someone else. Find your skill, and then improve on it.

3. Competition can fuel your team.

You never compete alone. You always take someone with you. Some of the greatest “Hall of Fame” speeches acknowledge the team that motivated the honoree to be their best. Compete at your personal best level and you will spark your team in the process.

4. Competition can fuel your vision.

A competitive spirit is behind almost every great adventure. For example, automobile dealers actually PREFER to have other dealerships near them. Comparison shopping brings customers to their car lot. What’s your vision? Where do you want to be professionally or personally in the next five years? Competition will help you get there.

5. Competition can fuel your goals.

If you’re like most successful people, you have a clear understanding of your objectives. And you also have attainable goals that propel you toward those objectives. Even the near-win is a step of progress on your journey toward what you want to be or what you want to achieve.

You don’t have to be THE best in order to be in the competition. You have to be YOUR best. Use your God-given intelligence, your skills, your training, and your network of associates—and go for the gold.

–Stan Toler