CliftonStrengths: Competition “The Driven”

Competition is rooted in comparison, so for people with the theme of competition, they love to measure their progress against the performance of others. They know, intuitively, how other people are performing and how they measure up. For them, competition is invigorating, especially when they come out in the end as the winners, yet they remain stoic in defeat and gracious to other competitors.

For Emily, a junior at Mizzou with the theme of competition, she explains how “empathy grounds me with my competition… it makes me not an aggressive competitor or a sore loser.” Sometimes, when competition is starved, the shadow side appears where people become sore losers or in-your-face winners, which is a misapplication of your talent theme. To fortify this theme, you should always celebrate everyone’s wins, set high aspirations for both yourself and others, and consider how you want to approach each situation with your talent theme. This way, you feed your competition strength by applying it to productive outcomes. Since Emily has both competition and empathy, her empathy helps to control the shadow side of competition, but if you need help controlling the shadow side of competition, try and pair with someone who has empathy. Those with strength of empathy are more in tune to reading and understanding other people’s emotions, so they can be a moral guide to help keep balance from the shadow side.

In addition to understanding how her themes work together, Emily has also discovered how her strengths can help her become more selfaware. When someone is in a situation where they are not their best self, it is oftentimes because they are squashing or misusing their strengths. CliftonStrengths believes that you can use your strengths as catharsis, or release of negativity, to find comfort in your talents, which can help you move past whatever situation in which you are stuck. “I didn’t realize how negative competition could get,” begins Emily. However, by learning more about her strength of competition, she has realized thatbeing self aware that there are limits to things, and you don’t have to push yourself like that is important. Through investing in her strength, Emily now has an understanding of what her strength means and how she can use it to her advantage, especially when it comes to encouraging her friends.

In addition to using her strength for her own benefit, Emily also likes to use her strength to encourage others to be more competitive. I’ve noticed in my job I’ll motivate other people, like who can staple the fastest, that kind of team morale,” she says. Similarly, when her friends need a little encouragement, Emily helps by instilling her strength of competition within them. “When my friends are applying for internships or jobs and they are nervous… I’ll definitely hype them up and put that competitive aspect in them.” Like how Emily encourages her coworkers and friends, pairing with someone who has strong competition can give you a quick boost in performance. With an incentive and a challenge, they’ll find innovative ways to break through the status quo.

If you want to build on your competition strength, look for tasks and projects that are measured against others. Even if you are doing something new and creative, think about who you can compete with, and try to take on challenges that really require the skills and expertise that you have. With the theme of competition, you can use introspection to self reflect who or what you are competing for to better understand yourself.