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How To Think About Your Opponents In Sports, Business and Life

Lessons from an NFL Coach

The salesperson next to you that closes the seven-figure deal. The hot start-up in your market that is slowly stealing your best customers. The guy in the gym that has forearms bigger than your hamstrings. Your neighbor that pulls into the driveway with their new car extra slowly so that everyone on the block notices.

It’s natural to hate these people. It’s easy to wish, hope, even pray for their downfall. For them to drop that big dumbbell on their foot or pop a tire on that fancy new car.

But what if we did the opposite? What if we chose to love these people for the exact same reason we currently hate them.

Stay with me here.

In Pete Carroll’s book, Win Forever, the Seattle Seahawks’ Head Coach outlines his coaching philosophy: “always compete.” In short, his philosophy is that competition should be the center focus of everything that the team does — that if they compete to be their best every day, the results will follow.

Now, let’s not mistake “always competing” with “always winning”. The theme of his coaching is not at all about defeating the opponent. In fact, Carroll has an interesting thought when it relates to their opponents:

“My opponents are not my enemies. My opponents are the people who offer me the opportunity to succeed. The tougher my opponents, the more they present me with an opportunity to live up to my full potential and play my best.”

Carroll doesn’t hate his opponents. Quite the opposite, in fact. He needs them, he loves them for what they can offer him — another opportunity to compete.

I’m not proposing that we back down to our opponents, but rather that we appreciate them for what they are — blueprints for success, an inspiration to become our best, a reason to keep pushing.

The next time you hear your co-worker close that deal or see your neighbor fly off on a vacation to The Almafi Coast, resist the urge to dismiss them or wish ill upon them. Instead, thank them. As they will be a reason for your future success.

Or as Jim Rohn once said, “don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.”

How are you getting better this week? Let me know in the comments below.

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