To one degree or another, many of us are loners when it comes to working out at the gym, or going for a run in the morning before work, or hopping on a mountain bike to zoom up into the hills and chase the afternoon sun for a couple of hours. Some people need that time to unpack and process whatever has been weighing on their mind, while others may get lost in their headphones, and still others just prefer the rhythm of solitude.
There are times, on the other hand, when it can be helpful, or even essential, to have another person huffing and puffing along beside. Maybe you need sometime to spot while you're lifting in the weight room, for example. There's a collegial spirit that, somewhat paradoxically, is both relaxing and challenging. Talking to another person is usually a welcome distraction, just as having someone else there tends to make you push a little harder.
It certainly isn't productive or healthy to go around constantly measuring yourself by the accomplishments of others. At the same time, however, the friendly rivalry of trying to go a little harder or faster than the Other Guy (or Other Gal) can provide a measure of incentive, a motivational nudge that might otherwise be lacking. Competitive urges are part of our biology — even the meekest among us are wired that way.
So it's fun that, among the many other cool benefits of working for TestOut, there's an annual fitness challenge that's open to all employees. The point is mostly to "challenge" yourself to do better each week in some way, whether it's drinking less soda, or doing more sit-ups. There's also the option, however, to look around at where you are in the standings and think, "I bet I can catch up to him, or do as well as her."
It's not just fitness challenges that work that way, incidentally. You can get better results by embracing the drive, wherever you encounter it, to outpace or outperform someone or something else. You don't even have to tell them you're doing it, if you'd prefer to take your inspiration silently. Being competitive — within reason and within "the rules," whatever they may be — can help you continually improve.
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