Newsflash: I am a very competitive person.

Here’s what happened. I was out for a run at the reservoir near my house. Two laps around is just over 3 miles. I wanted to run two miles and walk and cool down for the last mile.

I finished running and then started to walk.

There were two women walking in front of me. I always like when someone’s in front of me. It somehow pulls me along. They weren’t far ahead; they were also walking and didn’t seem to be going overly fast. I challenged myself to catch up and pass them.

I started to walk a little faster. I made a bit of headway but not much. I sped up a little more and then a little more. I had expected to catch up and pass them pretty quickly. Then I discovered that I have a short stride. I was stepping faster than they were but my overall pace was slower than theirs.

I realized I would have to start running again if I wanted to catch up and that was not part of my plan.

There’s a small cut out on the path I run around the reservoir. It’s not much, just a little nook where they put some seats. The women walked around it. I chose not too. It wasn’t part of my normal route. Their decision gave me time to catch up a little more.

Finally, I caught up and could go back to my normal pace. But before I knew it they were on top of me again. I had to speed up just to keep up.

I got to the end of the second lap around the reservoir and reflected on what had happened. It came as no surprise to me that my experience directly relates to business. Here are the lessons I learned.

1. How do you respond to competition? Sometimes it helps you, sometimes it doesn’t. When I first saw the women in front of me it was helpful. They gave me something to aim for, a goal. But then the healthy competition turned into a negative. I wondered what was wrong with me that I couldn’t catch up.

In our businesses we look to experts. We watch what they do and try to emulate them. We do our best to match their steps with the intention of getting ahead. We also look to colleagues and others that are on the same level as us. Sometimes that competition helps us, other times we are left feeling frustrated or less than when others succeed and we don’t have the same experience as them.

How do you respond to competition? How does looking up to them help you? What about the other people that are on the same path as you? Do your colleagues or other business owners on the same level as you help you keep going or do you look at them and then judge yourself. Do you ever find yourself saying, “How do they manage to do that? What is wrong with me?”

2. If you both continue doing the same thing nothing will change.In order for you to get ahead something needs to change. Either you need to change what you’re doing or the person that you are trying to catch up to needs to stop, slow down, change courses or make a mistake.

The only reason I was able to catch up and eventually pass those two women was because I sped up a lot and they walked around the little nook with the chairs. I changed what I was doing and they changed courses, which slowed them down.

3. You have no control over them. I think this goes without saying, but if you really want to get ahead of someone you can’t rely on them slowing down and you can’t wait around until they finally make a mistake. You must rely on yourself and make decisions that move you ahead.

4. Just because you caught up, and even passed the competition doesn’t mean that you’ll stay ahead. You have to keep playing an improved game OR they have to slow down. It’s easy to fall back on your successes and think that now that you’re the front-runner that you’ll hold the spot. There is always someone who’s going to be coming up behind you.

Competition can definitely be a positive driver as long as you use it to help you and not as a vehicle to bring you down.

Being a business owner is about running your own race and doing it your way. Have a plan and execute it the way you want and at the pace you want to execute it. I could have easily caught up with those women if I started running, but that wasn’t part of the plan I created for myself, and it wouldn’t have made me happy. That was a decision I made. If they hadn’t walked around that cut out I doubt that I would have caught up with them and I am okay with that.

What does competition do for you? How do you use it to help you? Where does competition hurt you?

Author's Bio: 

Carrie Greene is a speaker, author & business coach. She is a business strategist & who helps entrepreneurs get clear on what they want and creating simple plans to get there. She is the author of "Chaos to Cash: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Eliminating Chaos, Overwhelm & Procrastination So You Can Create Ultimate Profit!" Resources at