The inclination to compete, or the so-called competitiveness, in general is considered as an innate biological trait which coexists along with the urge for survival.  Charles Darwin theory on “the survival of the fittest” states that organisms inherently struggle against one another in competition for limited resources that make life possible. Sadly, we use the term more as a synonymous with aggressiveness rather than ambition. But as innovation has been lately identified as a key competitive advantage, more attention has been focused on the healthy competitiveness.

Let’s pause here, because many interesting things pop up when correlating competition with innovation. Specifically - in a company level - studies into the number of innovations and competitive product market support the existence of an inverted U-shape curve. Confirmed by Aghion, Bloom, Blundell, Griffithand Howitt (2005), using panel data on UK firms, the relationship of innovation and competition is not fully a linear relationship, but a relationship that follows the shape depicted below:

Therefore, if it happens between industries it can happen also in personal level. The relationship between competitiveness and innovation is positive up to a certain point, thereafter the relationship becomes negative, or as we call it below, unhealthy.

Unhealthy Competition VS Healthy Competition

Unhealthy competition is oriented mainly towards

  1. scarcity and/or fear rather than abundance,
  2. strong desire to get attention and validation from others (lack of self-awareness),
  3. self-interest and the strong desire to tear others down and
  4. winning at all costs

which most of the times lead to wrong decisions and unethical practices. However, on the other hand, healthy –friendly competition is the catalyzer for individuals and companies to achieve higher levels of motivation and performance by

  1. focusing on the bigger-picture (i.e. benefiting an entire organization rather than an individual itself),
  2. pushing themselves to a new level of performance and disclosing hidden potentials,
  3. emphasizing perseverance, honor and/or fairness of the team versus individual benefit and
  4. drawing attention to the lessons learned throughout the process rather than the end goal

8 reasons why individuals should befriend rivals

Befriending rivals is considered the driver behind people’s willingness to succeed at what they do. Strategically aligning with the competition at workplace can make one’s personal and professional life better by

  1. building relationships
  2. developing creativity
  3. developing self-awareness
  4. setting personal goals
  5. boosting motivation
  6. dealing with stress and anxiety
  7. boosting resilience
  8. learning constantly