Recently, the subject of competition came up while I was chatting with some female running friends of mine. I have run multiple marathons and find that the marathon distance is the true test of competing against yourself. It is the toughest and most challenging distance to complete because you will always be teetering on the edge of being over trained and getting injured during the training. Not to mention the race distance itself and what can happen to you during it. You will want to quit many times during the race and you will mentally need to be prepared to overcome that feeling.

I told my friends that I liked playing a game with runners and counting runners I passed in the last six miles of the marathon. The reaction by friends to my comments was that they were not that competitive and would not implement this strategy.

Pondering the conversation later, I considered why my friends brought up the word “competitive” and why did it strike a negative chord with these ladies?

In my world, competition is a good thing. It’s thrilling to compete in a marathon and be able to complete it. It is equally as thrilling if you win a case or get new business. It is being competitive.  If you graduated from law school and practice law you are competitive.

In my opinion, a public admission of being competitive is not necessarily a bad thing. It is the manner in which you decide to conduct yourself in being competitive that counts. We all know that obnoxious jerk that competes over everything.

In business, I am not going to compete with how much business my colleagues get or with the strategies of my colleagues. I am not going to compete with them because I really do not give much thought at all to what my colleagues are doing. I wake up and consider my business strategies and plans for that day. I never wake up and focus on competing on the backs of the business strategies of others in my field.

However, I will compete in Court when I need to do so. The intensity of competition, however, is formulated by me and driven by what is best for my clients and my firm.

The best form of competition in business is the one against yourself. I think about how I can run my business better today than I did yesterday.

I will be training for the Philadelphia Marathon this year. I will be thinking about what I did last year and how to train and run it better. Until I get bored, I will not stop competing. So the next time someone uses the word competition, consider this an incentive to work on yourself.