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  • Writer's pictureRahul Guha

Growth Strategy: 5 doable adaptations to start competing with yourself

I was reading articles on how mountaineers succeed in climbing Mount Everest in the face of odds. Achieving our aspirational goals is no less challenging than climbing a difficult peak. Generally due to climatic conditions average of three attempts are required to meet the summit of Everest unless someone is lucky. Breathlessness, hypothermia and other high-altitude sicknesses are enough to dampen the spirit of any climber. Interestingly, people who succeed in meeting the summit are determined, their eyes remain glued to the pinnacle, obstacles appear insignificant before the goal.

Are they different breeds? Many pick up mountaineering in their late thirties with a shot of inspiration hence start enjoying the sport. You may not feel the significance of planning your career trajectory during your first few years of employment. The time comes when you are done with Maslow’s first two needs Psychological & Safety and drawn towards the third one, Love & belongingness. Here you pick up the sport of competing with yourself. I have picked up the example of mountaineers as they never compete with anyone, they just draw inspiration from fellow climbers to continue their journey.

In your career journey, the only person you compete with (like a mountaineer) is YOU. You need to mark the miles in your career path. Put each milestone in a shorter, achievable distance that turns into your goal. You need to set your benchmark for attempts and exceeding the target. Your misadventures teach you valuable lessons. You fail when you give up.

Here, you will find some essential adaptations that help you succeed in competing with yourself and eliminate the feeling of rejection.

  1. When you compete with others you tend to judge yourself against their metrics and values and in the bargain, you miss out on your objective. Kanye West once commented, “I like playing racing games instead of fighting games. Fighting games are won by beating someone else down. Racing is a matter of figuring out your technique and driving as fast as you can.” Your purpose becomes your destination. Meeting your metrics will tell you how good you are driving. If you intend to stick to your path & steer well, do what matters most to you.

2. Foster the ability to set your values and metrics.

One can compete to beat own standards. Surpassing own benchmarks requires effort & discipline. Well-defined purpose and values work as an umpire who tells you how well you are traversing on your career path. Most people ignore spending time to introspect while framing their career purpose and core personal values that form the basis of our career journey. You are evaluated before the mirror to measure success against your metrics.

This exercise of self-evaluation is far more difficult than said. Criticizing our actions and rewiring mind to refine those in the career journey is possible when you foster your abilities to form and improve your values & metrics. You may find the meaning of these elements as you get experienced by negotiating challenges. Values bring back focus and metrics help you strive to meet stretched targets.

3. Stop judging the effort of others rather than appreciate their accomplishments.

Sometimes we discuss the struggle or the luck of the protagonist (whose success excites you). How difficult the journey was, how the mentor supported (wish you had one) or a rare opportunity came as a boon that makes the person successful. Judging other’s efforts is futile. Instead taste the fruit of success, appreciate the accomplishment.

Our purpose, values, and metrics are unique, and we experience success based on those. If you draw inspiration from the accomplishment of others that may fuel your contest with yourself. You must join other’s success parties to get motivation and taste the triumph.

4. Focus and nurture your prime skills.

Some players never won a championship. They have invested years in sharpening their skills in a specific sport. Their skills made them known in their fraternity & gave them the impetus to excel in their sporting career. It is important to keep the focus on your prime skills. You need to first spot them; these are unique skills that make you efficient in your job. Invest time to practice, sharpen and improve those prime skills. These are important tools that help you break your record.

One must learn new skills alongside, that may enrich your prime skills. If you are a software developer with mastery in a specific program need to learn and acquire new skills (software/tools) that may save time, deliver cleaner & shorter codes, or bring in AI capability. I found that people attend training that does not compliment their prime skills, those may not come in handy in your present career journey. Once you are aware of your prime skills, use those to the best of your abilities. Use these as a tool to beat your metrics while competing with yourself.

5. There is always someone better than you.

Let us accept that there always be someone better than you. It is certainly a frustrating effort to match your skills with others. A true expert in a particular skill is rare. Everyone strives to display their skills to impress others. You may not be the best, but instinct will drive you to add glory to your potential & skills. Unconsciously if we find someone better that triggers self-discovery. When you accept this fact, you can adopt the relevant finer elements from the person you consider better, for your improvements.

It is important to celebrate even small accomplishments. Celebration boosts the spirit and stamps the success while competing with yourself. You should do this luxury when you meet your target. This process will generate confidence and give you enough energy for the next lap. Needless to mention the person in competition needs to take due care of health, mind, and soul that keeps you moving even when your career faces a temporary setback.

Another fact about climbers of Everest. The chances of the mountaineers dying in their sleep due to freezing and scarcity of oxygen at such a hight. As a routine, everyone sleeps for half an hour & inspects to make sure others are alive else act swiftly to rescue if the slightest symptom of abnormality is found.

These are five adaptations I have mentioned here. There is a lot more that needs to be done when you venture into competing with yourself. Your hurdles are more than facing an external competition. Your mind may play devil’s advocate, your limiting beliefs may hold you from exploring unknown. We must prepare well to counter these distractions. Surely, in a career journey, an accountability partner or a coach helps to keep you in traction, be a mirror in front of you, and shake the champagne bottle when you succeed. Like a fellow mountaineer you will be put in conscience in dark hours by the partner or coach. You may find one like-minded partner within your associates; the right accountability partner to encourage competition with yourself & travel with you in the winning journey.
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