Conflicts, competition and rivalries are good. We enjoy watching sports teams face off against their rivals. Observing corporate conflict, such as that between Google and Apple, can be fun. Beefs between showbiz personalities can cause fans to get excited.
Conflict is compelling and has been since David versus Goliath. Look at how many movies and TV shows are based on conflict. We tend to favor the “good guy,” but sometimes the lines are hazy. In recent decades, we’ve been introduced to more likable “bad guys.” Still, there are those classic conflicts between good and bad, rich and poor, cool kids and nerds, rednecks and sophisticates, etc. that fuel so much entertainment content.
It’s important to remember that rivals need each other. Despite their competing operating systems for mobile devices, Google and Apple still have business dealings with each other. Meanwhile, the success of one motivates the rival to keep up (or to do better). As much as St. Louis Cardinals fans and Chicago Cubs fans love to give each other grief, the two teams prosper financially when their rival comes to town. Conflict exists on the field and in the stands, but beneath it all, the Cards and Cubs are longtime partners in Major League Baseball.
Do you have a direct competitor? Is there a specific business or individual that you are motivated to outperform? If not, you may want to look for one! Why? It helps you define your purpose and it can drive you to give extra effort. Your designated rival doesn’t have to know that you are targeting him (or them). He (or they) may have chosen a completely different entity to serve as their motivating rival.
Picking a rival does not mean that you want to put them out of business or drive them down. The Philadelphia Eagles want to feed on the conflict and beat the New York Giants each time they meet. But the Eagles don’t want the Giants to disappear, nor to be weak or winless. You (and the Eagles) just want to outperform your chosen rival in measurable numbers. Whether that means points on a scoreboard, awards on a trophy shelf or profits on a balance sheet, having a rival can spark your performance.
Will you always win? No. If you do, you may want to select another rival. Look for a rival that pushes you to be your best. And always play to win.