In 2016, a University of Essex study said that, in the presence of an opponent, cyclists were willing ‘to tolerate higher levels of peripheral fatigue.” Put simply, these athletes were able to push themselves harder when they had someone to race against. An opposing cyclist who is a mile behind will not spur us on as effectively as the one beside us jockeying for the lead. We need to someone to put our feet to the fire, to show us that if we do not achieve something, they will. Would Roger Maris have broken Babe Ruth’s record were it not for Mickey Mantle? Would Larry Bird or Magic Johnson have been as great were it not for each other? I think not. This seems intuitive for athletic endeavors, but, to me, it applies equally to business. Are you inspired by the people who surround you? If you are not sure, you are in trouble.
Even those of you with a fire in your belly will find that flame extinguished in a motivational vacuum. By now, everyone should know to be leery of yes-men. These people want to enjoy the benefits of your success and avoid the conflict inherent to pushing the envelope. Do not allow them to stifle your potential.
On the other hand, a contrarian can do just as much damage. Someone who is constantly challenging you or your authority in a negative way cannot have a place in your business. A friendly rivalry is a tide that raises all ships; a bitter rivalry will end up costing you time and energy.
There are also going to be countless people who are just in it for the paycheck. They lack the inspiration to push their own performance to gain more from their efforts than money.
What are the qualities that describe you on your best day? Find a person who embodies these traits if you want to hone them. If you are in a leadership position, fill your team with people who challenge you. Seek out those who beat you to work in the morning, who you admire and who ask tough questions but are also will to grapple with you to discover the solutions.
My company might have plateaued many times if it were not for the drive of my team. These men and women force me to bring my a-game every day because I know they will bring theirs. In order to ride at the front of the pack, you are going to need people who want it just as badly. Are you confident in your team?