Why does competition matter?

On Sunday night, I watched the closing ceremony for the 2016 Olympics. Afterwards, there was an incredible presentation of Olympic highlights showing one breathtaking victory or crushing defeat after another.

I’ll admit to tears pouring down my face as I watched these athletes push through pain, fear and exhaustion to reach their goal. So much heart. So much drive. So much grit. Leaving their guts on the field. Leaving their sweat and sometimes blood on the court, track or bars. As the program drew to a close I found myself overwhelmed with a ton of emotions. What were they and why were they so intense? I think it deserves a second look.

During the Olympics, I feel such a sense of Love and Oneness. The Olympics represent the best of human nature. Without our competitors, there would be no competition.

The Olympics teach us to love our competitors – because without them, we would not be able to experience the best of ourselves. 

Love your competitor?? Let’s dig a little deeper.

Sport Psychology, Mental Training, Sports Mental Training, Mental Coach, Mental Toughness, Competition Secrets, Pre-performance nervousness

Without competitors, we would not be able to experience the best of ourselves. Why? Competition exposes our weakness. The people who are brave enough to look at that weakness, have an opportunity to figure out how to get stronger, and turn that weakness into a strength. Competition also exposes our strengths. The people who can acknowledge their strengths with gratitude, learn to stay humble, and can work to get even stronger.

Being me, I witness the lessons we learn within sport and apply them to life. Here’s what I notice. We tend to surround ourselves with likeminded people. It makes life really comfortable doesn’t it? Everyone around you agreeing with what you say? Think about it. It can be really uncomfortable being around people with different views, so we tend to avoid them.

But what do you learn? How do you grow when no one is challenging any of your beliefs?

It’s like that in sports too – the best time to grow is right after you get your butt kicked! It exposes where you’re weak and makes it clear how to modify your practice. And by repeating this process, you improve. Does it make more sense now why the best athletes hope their competitors bring their A-game!?

It’s your choice – get better or get bitter.

In your everyday life, I challenge you to get more curious about other people’s opinions. Make an effort to learn from people with different views. Ask questions to clarify a belief – not to prove that YOU are right, but to understand beliefs at a deeper level. Be curious.


I’ll finish with this.

Curiosity opens up a space to learn more. Not just about what’s going on around you, but to learn more about yourself. It’s risky though… just like competing. Being around people with different views might expose a weakness in yourself. Losing a competition might hurt your confidence. Are you brave enough to look at that weakness and figure out how to get stronger?  -Dr. Bob


Dr. Robert Neff, PhD, Certified Mental Trainer

President and Founder, Mental Training Inc.

(877) 744-5365

Stone Tower, 13760 Noel Rd., Suite 330, Dallas, Texas 75240