Competition Becomes Me

In a guest post last week, Sarah Beth Jones of Nary Ordinary Business Services discussed Why Internal Competition Rules and External Competition Drools. She invited a response, and Attention Anonymous accepted the challenge. This post was originally published on the No B.S. blog.

Facing a full length mirror in my first ever Body Pump class, I eye the girls to my left and right.

“I’ve got to at least lift as much as she does. Put more weight on that bar!”

Competition for me is the practice of setting my sights on something I want to push toward.

The runner traversing the trail ahead. The mother training her toddler nearby. The writer turning tears to treasure somewhere out there.

They are not only my competition. They are my inspiration. They will help me be a better me.

Ultimately, competition—either internal against one’s self or external against one’s peers—should be about choosing a starting point, setting an end goal, and stretching between the two.

Despite my willingness to approach a Body Pump class, or my affinity for getting sweaty outdoors, I wouldn’t be considered “competitive.”

Three friends climbed Mill Mountain to the Star. A fantastic run, made all that much better because I beat everyone else to the top!

Three friends ran up Mill Mountain to the Star in Roanoke, VA (2012). A fantastic workout, made all that much better because I beat everyone else to the top!




I run races, but I don’t race.

I strive for success, but I don’t climb ladders.

I want to be the best me, but not because I want to be better than others.




I identify people I see as successful and who work hard to achieve what I see as important, whether it’s toned thighs, a genuine mother-child connection or an impenetrable work ethic. I consider myself in competition with them, not because I feel threatened but because I realize they are where I want to be.


Seeing what is possible incites the inherently competitive girl inside of me.  I seek out ways to stretch between where I am and where I want to be—physically and emotionally.



The key to living with a sense of competition, and not losing oneself to the desire to be better than someone else, is to constantly be aware of the starting line.

Don’t compete with the instructor on the first go at the “clean and jerk” (weight-lifting term that I just can’t help but throw in there).

Instead, set sights on something just out of reach. It may be the girl in the mirror who just added another plate to her bar, or the you who woke up on a cold, dark morning and didn’t even want to come to class.

Born the third child of five, I spend a lot of time in the middle of the pack. I am comfortable there. That is my starting line.

When I choose my competition, I pick someone just beyond my reach. I don’t focus on her method of achievement, but only on the fact that I can do what she is doing, better.

Competing with others inherently puts me in competition with my best self. Without the external focus, though, I may lose sight of my starting line…

…as the new girl in Body Pump class who will be sure to put more weight on the bar next time.

Ruth Cassell
Ruth Cassell is raising a little boy to be a young man, working in a field that allows her to write, studying for her masters degree, blogging right here (find Attention Anonymous on Facebook), running (and Body Pumping!) for sanity, and writing to keep it all in perspective.
3 Responses to “Competition Becomes Me”
  1. Julia Tomiak says:

    I love this Ruth! It’s not about beating someone else, but making myself better. I have that competitive streak too, but I should make sure it’s from a desire to grow, and not insecurity. Thanks for this post. Missed you at the conference last weekend. Good stuff. Guess I need to attend Sarah Beth’s sessions next time!

    • Thank you Julia! I attended the Friday night reception and keynote, but I didn’t make it back on Saturday 😦 I know I missed a good conference. How are things with you? I love your comments here. Thanks for sharing.

      • Julia Tomiak says:


        I skipped the Friday night events and went Saturday! Together, I guess we covered it. 🙂 Lots of info this year about the business of writing- publicity, marketing, connecting. I hope to write a few blog posts covering the good stuff for the site. I’ll try to remember to share.

        I’m good. Making progress with the manuscript. Hoping to finish this round of edits, get beta readers, and start submitting later this year. I’m also trying to be better about “engagement” and will try to get back to your blog more often.

        Still fighting with my IT band. Hope your running is going well.

        Take care,


        Sent from my iPad

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