The Catalyst of Competition: Why You Need Challengers

This time, Ego IS the answer.

For many of us, happiness and contentment are synonymous. We reach a moderate level of success, while secretly wishing we could do (fill-in the blank). Most of the time, that one thing we wish were doing professionally –instead of what we’re currently doing– is in a completely unrelated field. It is our fear of switching gears and venturing out into the unknown that keeps us in our safe place –our regular job, regular pay, regular, predictable life.

Until one day, someone enters our social circle and is doing exactly the thing we secretly wish we were doing. This moment, for men all over the world, is a catalyst to creation. In an instant, ego dances with doubt, ideas break bread with creativity, and pride tells us we can do better than this guy, while our saboteur tries to talk us out of it.

This moment is paramount to success and fulfillment for many of us. We need someone to show up and burst our bubble. We need a competitor to challenge us. We need to see that we’re actually a rather small fish, and this pond is bigger than we thought.

This doesn’t have to be about a career or professional position either. It happens in fitness levels all the time. You were the fittest, most bad-ass of your group of friends… that was until the new guy showed up with muscles a little bigger than yours, and a six pack that makes you look like a fatty.

You have to step up. You can do better. You know it.

In this episode, we’re exploring the reasons why you need challengers in your life. Whether it’s for personal or professional fulfillment, you need someone (or multiple people) to burst your bubble and make you take action.

Take a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below. [Subscribe Here]

Show Notes:

Ego is a powerful thing, gentlemen. We all know it. One of my favorite examples of the ego kicking in for good (and not evil) is when we suffer a break up, and decide to step up and make ourselves better (ultimately hoping to make the ex sorry, jealous, or realize how awesome we truly are). We do this most often by getting in shape and taking care of business like a boss.

The clearest and most poignant illustration of this is all too real in this video:

While heartache sucks more than just about anything else on Earth, it is a catalyst for significant change. In the beginning, we change for the worse: getting depressed, lazy, sad, unkempt, disinterested in everything, etc. Then, much to our dismay, that heartache triples when she meets some new dude. Motherf$#@er.

This catalyst, however, is different. For many guys, this moment turns into an “it’s time to get my shit together and show her the mistake she’s made” turning point. Ego kicks in, plans are made, we get cleaned up, we get off the couch, and we get into action.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and we are in better shape, feeling better about ourselves, and performing better in more areas of life than ever before. We may not even want her back. We may just want to move the hell onto bigger and better things now!

If the heartache never happened, would we have become better? Would we have had the catalyst we needed to step up and change? That’s the question of the ages, right? This is the Schrödinger’s Cat simulation of personal development. You do not know whether you could or would not, until it happens –or until you do the work.

Professional Complacency Kills

This is my story, actually. I used to work in Corporate America as a cubicle jockey on a sales floor. I really wanted to do team training, but was content with staying in my lane and doing what I could for sales team. Sure, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it paid the bills and gave me some autonomy to get the job done. I was happy enough.

Then, the company promoted another salesperson and transferred him to the training department so he could be “the guy” that trained all the new sales teams and leaders. In my personal opinion, this guy was an idiot. He had no charisma, no charm – frankly, no business training anyone. This dude was leaving my department, my position, my rank, and doing what I wanted to do.

That didn’t work for me. I immediately sprung into action. I spoke with my directors, other coworkers on the sales floor, and the heads of other departments. I wanted them to know who I was and what I was good at. I wanted them to see my charisma, charm, and acumen. I let them know I wanted to be a trainer, and wouldn’t stop until I reached it.

100 days later, I got it. I had to come in early, work a little late, and spend my free time helping other team members reach their goals. I had to step up and put in the work, skipping dinners with friends, date nights, and lunch breaks with coworkers. I didn’t want to do any of these cuts, but I had to cut them out if I was going to hit my goal.

I feel like I was waiting for someone to simply hand me the job I truly wanted without declaring to anyone that I wanted it, and without putting in an ounce of extracurricular effort to make it happen. That is, until someone came in and took it before I could.

My professional complacency was killing me. I just didn’t know it until I felt the wound of not getting what I secretly wanted.

Fast-forward a decade, and I’m experiencing this all over again.

I run two companies right now, and LOVE them, but I want to elevate one arm of The Sharp Gentleman into a different league, and eventually sell off the other company altogether. I currently do a lot of public speaking and training, but they’re small groups and sales teams. Deep in my bones, I know I want to be a professional speaker –internationally known, and sought after. And it’s something I’m “trying” to make happen.

Then, just last week, at a networking meeting I run, a guest joined us for our meeting. He’s a nationally recognized and sought after motivational speaker. He is doing what I want to do. This guy just walked into my comfortable little bubble and disrupted everything. He didn’t know it, but he set my ego on fire.

“What the hell are you doing wasting time?!? Get your head out of your ass and get this done!”

“You think you’re pissed off now? Just wait until he trains someone else and they become a pro before you!”

I am fired up. I’ve made more phone calls since meeting him than I’ve ever made in my life. I am not going to let this dream go. Not another minute.

The simple fact that a competitor (if you can call him that) entered my space and made me envious, was more than enough for me to snap out of it. He is the catalyst I need. He’s not even a threat to me! He just happens to have what I want more than anything.

Let’s unpack a hard truth…

“More often than not, you can only turn a big goal into a big reality when someone comes in and threatens to do it first –or take it from you.”

No matter what you want, you’ll want it more when someone else gets it first. No matter what it is, you’ll work harder to achieve, be, do, or have it if you think someone else might take your chance away.

“Be confident and take risks, because if you’re not going to, someone else is, and someone will beat you to it.”

Relationships at Risk

If you’ve read my other posts or listened to other podcasts on relationships, you know I’m a big proponent of gratitude journals. When we stop recognizing the best parts of our relationships, we begin taking them for granted. We get complacent, lazy, and indifferent. We are so comfortable, we let autopilot take the wheel and keep us on course.

Big mistake.

A friend of mine –we’ll call him Travis, learned this the hard way. After four years with his girlfriend, they were in a comfortable spot. They had a nice apartment, a dog, date nights, friends – everything a regular relationship needs, right? Travis was so used to his everyday life with his girlfriend, that he stopped paying attention to the details around him.

He wasn’t grateful for her or what she gave in the relationship. He stopped paying attention. He didn’t see what the harm was in being less attentive – I mean, they’ve been together 4 years, she’s not going anywhere, what’s the big deal?

He felt their relationship wasn’t ever at risk, so he relaxed a lot. He gained weight and started caring less about a lot of small things that mattered to her. He was busy with work, and made time for her when she absolutely demanded it.

Now, I want to stop here and explain that Travis is NOT a bad guy. He’s not a terrible boyfriend. He’s not mean or uncaring. He just got too comfortable in his relationship and stopped noticing he was actually IN one.

Then one day, his girlfriend started talking with a new guy at work. He’s a good guy. Good communicator, pays attention to her, makes her laugh, makes her want to look her best when she leaves the house – and he notices this.

She’s invited out with her coworkers and brings Travis along that night. He meets the new guy. He notices the way they look at each other. His ego is raging inside him. He confronts her about what he sees and the most amazing thing happens (and why I still love this story). She tells him, to his face, that “new guy” is a better version of him – the version he would be if he got his head out of his ass and gave a shit about his health, his goals, and his girlfriend. That’s why she’s attracted to him.

Then she tells him to get it together.

I have to applaud him now because he used that hit to his ego as fuel. He improved his communication with her, and they started talking about who they were, what they wanted, and where to go from there. He got his health in check and made her a priority with it. Essentially, he stepped up and became the man he was meant to be, for himself, and for her.

He proposed later that year and they got married in 2015.

So this brings us to the powerful questions:

  • What do you really want to do, be, or have in your life?
  • Why the hell aren’t you being, doing, or experiencing it right now?
  • Where are you letting excuses get in your way?
  • What would you do if tomorrow a challenger entered your circle and threatened to take away that opportunity?
  • Seriously, what are you waiting for?

The biggest excuse I hear when I present this idea to people is how long it will take to get what they truly want. My answer is always the same: So what!?! You’re going to spend the time anyway! You can either spend the next few years traveling closer to or away from what you want – the choice is yours.

Sometimes you need a challenger to come in and disrupt your little bubble. You need competitors and threats to keep you focused on becoming the man you were born to be. It’s not something you achieve and stop – no, it’s something you are always improving and enhancing.

Take some time to explore what you really want and what’s stopping you from getting there. Then, take some deep breaths, and go make it happen. Even better, send me an email and I’ll arrange a competitor to show up where you are. I’ll do everything I can to help kick you out of your head and into action. If you don’t do it, someone else will. That, I can promise you for sure.

What areas of your life do you need to man-up and make it happen?
Are there any areas you think need more mentioning – any stories you want to share?
Leave a comment below so we can connect!



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The Author

Blake Hammerton

Blake Hammerton

Blake Hammerton is the founder and coach at The Sharp Gentleman, and helps men earn more respect while gaining confidence in who they are. He is a certified relationship coach and loves writing about men's fashion, style, character-building, relationships, travel, adventure, and more.