I am very competitive. I am probably the most competitive person I know. Don’t challenge me on that, I’ll win.
When my family gets together for holidays it is always a huge competition. My brother-in-law still tells the story about the time that my sister and I were shouting at each other from across the room on Christmas Eve, and when my wife asked me “why are you yelling?” I not-so-calmly answered “Because I’m right!”
As a marathoner, every mile I run is in preparation for my next race where I am competing against, not only the other runners, but also the clock, and myself.
But when I am playing Cards Against Humanity with my siblings, shouting Jeopardy! answers at the TV faster (ok, generally slower) than my wife, or pacing my living room during a Lion’s game, there are no real consequences.
When the stakes are higher, though, I have to take another approach. While a competitive “every man for himself” environment may be good for some things, it is worth considering whether there is anything that can be gained by not confining ourselves to only winning or losing. I still don’t want to lose, but winning looks different when the results actually matter. This is true with my family, it is true in the boardroom, and it is true in the office - all places where what is right matters more than who is right.
I may not “win” this, but I can still gain from participating in the process.
Stepping back, and not insisting on being right, might allow for a better, more creative idea to step forward.