On Worthy Rivals
They say we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Equally important, I think, is who are the worthy rivals we choose as our peer set. This has everything to do with how you define what success means to you, of course. And once you decide what that is for yourself, ideally rooted in a bigger vision or purpose, it’s important to look around and pick your real peers.
In “The Infinite Game” Simon Sinek introduces the concept of the Worthy Rival. Here’s how I would break his main points down:
Summary: A Worthy Rival…
- Is a person currently alive who is worth studying and can be studied
- Does something (or many things) differently and better than you and therefore is someone you can learn from
- Can be within or outside your industry or company, can be a peer, acquaintance, frenemy, etc.
- Motivates you to constantly improve in a way few others can (including mentors, coaches, etc) by revealing to you areas where you have room to grow and improve
- Makes you shift from competition and scarcity mindset towards growth mindset
- Can be a powerful ally or partner to have on your side, though this doesn’t always happen (sometimes your relationship can be a bad one, actually)
Business Example: This old email from Bill Gates about Steve Jobs (“Apple’s Jobs again”) is making the rounds on Twitter. You don’t have to read deeply into it to see that Gates considered Jobs a Worthy Rival, a competitor and peer whom he studied and learned from constantly.
🆗 Why Worthy Rivals Matter
Worthy Rivals, when chosen thoughtfully and strategically, offer many benefits.
Firstly, they help us become better at what we do. Think about the example I just shared about Microsoft vs Apple, Gates versus Jobs. It is helpful to have a real-life benchmark for the direction you are trying to grow in.
Maybe less obvious is this: they help us get clearer on why we do what we do. You can tell when someone is performing for a higher cause than just themselves, and this sense of purpose is an important reminder to us to play the Infinite Game of business. I think this may have been a defining difference to those girls between Hillary and Rihanna, for example. How Rihanna uses her platform and voice for under-served communities and under-represented topics for women comes to mind.
Some of you may say that your Worthy Rival is yourself and that your biggest competition is yourself and your standards. Chances are, that strategy is not enough to catapult you in a sustainable way. Having another person around you whom you can learn from, who provides a new way of looking at things, and does things completely differently (and better) than you is likely way more effective in keeping you operating at your full potential.
Some of you may be intimidated by Worthy Rivals. The mindset shift I mentioned above is important here. This isn’t about winning, being better, or out-doing each other. Worthy Rivals are people whom YOU choose as worth learning from so that you can continue to grow and perform at a higher level. Their success does not affect yours and vice versa in this abundant world.
Some of you may be aiming too low with your Worthy Rivals. Sure, your ego may love the feeling of superiority and thrill when you beat your main “competitors” or peer group. But you’re not learning or growing in the same way! If your Worthy Rivals are people who you have outgrown, regularly outperform, or don’t learn from, then it’s time to evaluate who your Worthy Rival really is in this moment in your career and life.
👉🏼 My challenge to you this week: Identify one worthy rival for yourself whom you can learn from to simply grow and be a better version of yourself. Watch and learn from them without ego or judgement or competitive emotion. Having a good worthy rival can make all the difference, whereas not having a Worthy Rival will likely lead to stagnation and lower motivation levels in your career. So put down your books and find a real-life person worth studying and learning from by proxy. And if you can, help them be better in return too.
P.S. You are probably someone’s worthy rival and don’t even realize it. No need to panic. Just a friendly reminder that you have awesome qualities too.
💆🏻♀️ My Self-Care checklist score this week: 75%. Please prioritize your self-care with me this week.