Growing the Strengths Explorer Theme of Competing

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Writer's Note: This is one of a series of 10 articles on the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer themes. For more info on StrengthsExplorer, click here.

“Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else.” – Vince Lombardi, American football player, coach, and executive in the NFL

Students with Competing in their Top 3 StrengthsExplorer results think of many things in life as a game, and they feel great joy when they win. In any contest they feel is worthy of their time and effort, they are drawn to benchmarks they would like to surpass, whether their own or others'. Like the cheetah, the fastest land animal on the face of the earth, those with the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme are motivated by the challenge of beating everyone else for the title of "the best [in their field of choice]."

This competitive spirit may not apply in every area of their lives: for the student with the Competing talent theme, a worthwhile challenge is the first requirement. This may be in sports, in their studies, or perhaps their extracurricular activities. Whatever the contest, once they've identified a worthy rival or endeavor, they instinctively benchmark their own efforts against others' (or perhaps against their own previous attempts) so that they can see who the clear winner is at the end. At times, this competitiveness may manifest in poor sportsmanship or even cheating in pursuit of the win, particularly if the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme is in its infancy. However, the Competing talent theme's greatest value-add to the team is in being able to give their team the drive to do their best and win without compromising on ideals.

While the Caring StrengthsExplorer theme is more likely to say, "our efforts have made the world kinder than it was yesterday," the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme is likely to say, "our efforts have made the team better than we were yesterday." And while both the Dependability StrengthsExplorer theme and Competing StrengthsExplorer theme are externally motivated, Dependability is motivated by the idea, "I have lived up to the trust that others have in me," whereas Competing is motivated by the idea, "I have taken the team to a whole new level."

What does the Competing talent theme look like?

“When I read the line from the theme description that “[I] see many things in life as a game,” I thought, “that’s so true!” It does feel a lot like a game to me: a game I intend to win. That’s been the case for my studies, in sports, and even at home. For example, in my track team, I set a goal for myself to be the fastest runner…and at the time, I was one of the slowest! That idea of beating someone at the top of his game motivated me. I kept track of everyone’s timings and studied the way they ran. I read up on good running form, and even changed my diet (I was a fruitarian for a while) so that I could lose weight and be at my optimal weight for running. After months of intense study, dieting, and training, I finally beat the fastest runner on the team. That was one of my highlights for the year.” – J. T.

As a teacher, how do I develop a student with Competing?

  1. Help the student with the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme measure their progress. Introduce the idea of "personal bests," so that even without a rival to compete against, the person can still compete against himself or herself to reach new levels. If you have the liberty to decorate the classroom, you could even consider putting up a class chart in a specific academic area, such as "Number of Books Read" or "Pop Quizzes Aced."

  2. Affirm or validate the emotions that the student experiences after a victory or loss. Because the student with the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme is very emotionally invested in the outcome, he or she is likely to have strong feelings about it. Help the student work through the emotions in a healthy way, understanding that these emotions help to fuel the motivation for doing even better next time round.

  3. Look out for opportunities in which the student’s Competing energy could be channeled. For instance, if the student is good in math, are there any Math Olympiads that the student could participate in? Are there extracurricular activities that would give the student a platform to compete and also refine his or her skills in the selected field? Rather than trying to study or practice alone, these outlets for competition will give an added boost of motivation to the student.

As a student with Competing, how do I grow it to maturity?

  1. Find ways to make studying and other essential tasks into a game. This will give you an extra jolt of energy to complete those tasks. For example, challenge yourself to complete your mathematics homework faster and with fewer errors than your previous attempt (or compared to a friend), or perhaps memorize more test-related vocabulary compared to anyone else in your class.

  2. Develop a way to track your performance. This benchmarking (or measurement) helps you to do better and better. For example, if you’re trying to get better at basketball, count how many baskets you can make in a row. Or if you’re learning to play the guitar, track how many chords you can play without making a mistake. You will continually want to do better, so tracking your performance provides a tangible way of seeing results and increasing motivation.

  3. Find a friend or rival who is as good or perhaps better at something that you want to do. Find ways to measure his/her performance, then set a goal for yourself to one-up that performance. Remember to play fair! Your friendly competition with each other will stir both of you up to always do better and be your best.

Concluding Thoughts: The Competing StrengthsExplorer theme is sometimes misunderstood as valuing the task or the outcomes over relationships, but that is far from the case. Rather, the Competing theme wants to work together with the team and continually bring them to new heights. When paired with integrity and good sportsmanship, the high energy and drive of the Competing StrengthsExplorer theme serve as potent motivators to help the team (and the individual) perform at their best.

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Written by Tan Meiling

Responsibility • Learner • Relator • Belief • Harmony

As a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, Meiling is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.


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