by Marjón Meyer
Recently, I’ve talked with many delegates, friends and family about the differences between being an achiever or a competitor. It might seem, at first glance, like the two are very similar. However, there is a huge difference!
I personally first came across this concept when I was introduced to a business skills programme (Skils21 by Arc Skills) for high school children. I loved this idea as it says so much about what drives us to be successful. Education systems often encourage children to compete, rather than teaching them to become achievers in their own right too by chasing their own dreams, in their own context, at their own unique pace.
Am I an Achiever or a Competitor?
Think of how you think about a pull-away from a red traffic light when you are waiting in front and there’s another car next to you… In this situation, what’s more important to you?
- To feel that you have performed the best compared to others in the team?
- To feel you have achieved your own personal best?
The first description describes competitors and the latter achievers. This is the crucial difference: competitors have a desire to compare their progress to others to gain a sense of achievement. Achievers are happy achieving too, but they aren’t so obsessed with comparisons against other people or marks. Which do you think you have more of?
Achievers: focused and driven internally by their own goals
Being an achiever means that you set your own goals and work hard to achieve them in order to feel successful. This requires self-discipline and having an internal locus of control. It means that you are driven and feel rewarded by reaching your own goals and dreams as a result of your own efforts. Importantly, what other people around you do and achieve is not a threat or sign of failure – rather an inspiration.
Competitors: focused on their own goals but driven by comparing and outperforming their competition
Competitors love the chase of constantly improving their game and tactics by observing what the competition is doing and then work hard to be even better. They look sideways to benchmark themselves and push themselves harder to be one step ahead. This behaviour works very well in sales environments, and many people are naturally competitive. It is a great driver for such people and helps them perform and produce great results. On the flip side, they can also sometimes be sore losers or become disenchanted when not ahead of the competition. Having a blend of ‘achiever’ and ‘competitive’ traits is important when dealing with life’s challenges and becoming successful.
Organisations also need both skills to ensure that they stay competitive and ahead in the business environment. Being a competitor doesn’t exclude you displaying achiever qualities and vice versa, but which is your primary driver? For me, I’m an Achiever through and through. Now that I know this, it’s helped me know myself a little better, especially when I’m working in a team. So are you a competitor, or an achiever, or a bit of both?
Marjón Meyer is a Talent and Learning specialist, an Organisational Development consultant, a Corporate trainer & speaker, and a Coach & Therapist. Find out more about her work by visiting her website www.marjonmeyer.co.za