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What Being an Olympic Weightlifter Taught Me About Competition

Being called competitive is rarely a compliment for a woman, but here's why you should embrace it.

female weightlifter at the gym

Aggressive. Catty. Emotional. These are words often attributed to women who are competitive. Right up there with being fat and bossy, competitive is yet another thing our culture has largely deemed undesirable in women. But what if competition isn’t all that bad? What if it’s — dare I say — a positive?

After dedicating several years of my life to training and competing as an Olympic weightlifter, here are a few things I’ve learned about competition amongst women — and how it applies to many facets of life.

3 Things I Learned From Being a Competitive Woman

1. Competitive Women Can Still Be Kind and Supportive

And very often, they are.

To compete in an Olympic weightlifting meet takes a level of bravery and confidence — two things not necessarily instilled in women throughout history.

However, women who possess these two traits don’t resent or avoid competition. They embrace it. They welcome it with open arms.

That extends, also, to their fellow competitors.

I know I’m not the only one who would watch another athlete take the platform and cheer when she made a lift. Simply put, seeing others succeed just feels good.

And despite what some people may argue, someone else’s success has no impact on your own success — or failure.

Another athlete successfully executing a big lift meant nothing about my own performance. So, why go out of my way to hate?

The media, pop culture, and dangerous stereotypes might have us believe that women are out to get each other, hoping that our competitors choke, fail, don’t make the cut.

However, many competitive women wholeheartedly understand that in competition, the only thing you can control is yourself. They focus their energy entirely on what they can do in that moment. Wishing ill will against anyone else can do nothing, except maybe backfire.

Being the best is nice, of course, but competitive women know that there’s more to gain from competition than winning. And that brings us to our next point.

2. Competitiveness Offers a Number of Mental/Emotional Benefits

Whether you’re competing for the gold medal at your local weightlifting meet or you’re competing for a promotion, you stand to benefit from it.

For instance, competition can help keep you motivated. Many woman will tell you that more than anyone else, they’re competing against themselves. This can put you on a path of positively evolving as you consistently try to improve some aspect of your life.

Being competitive can also boost your confidence.

When I’d compete in a weightlifting meet, I had to be okay with feeling vulnerable. What if I fell on my face? In front of all those people? After working so hard?

It can and does happen. But being competitive means that you’re aware of this possibility. You do your very best, give it everything you’ve got, and then leave the rest up to the universe.

Furthermore, this can spiderweb into other areas of your life. Being a competitive athlete has taught me how to work harder to grow my business and become a better entrepreneur.

It’s taught me that I can choose to push through any supposed barriers to achieve my biggest goals. If I can see it in my mind’s eye, I can grab it.

Competition doesn’t guarantee to end in your favor. That’s kind of the point. You might compete in that meet or for that promotion, and it might be a flop. Competitive women understand that there are no promises, but their confidence gets them through it — whether the results are favorable or unfavorable.

3. Competition Pushes You to Try Harder Than You Ever Have Before

To this day, nothing compares to the adrenaline rush I’d get stepping up on the platform to attempt my next big lift.

This was the true test, and my body and mind knew it.

On the competition platform, I could do things I couldn’t ever do in training, under stressful circumstances like big crowds, weight cuts, a lack of sleep, and hours spent traveling to the competition location.

Many athletes will tell you that competition pushes you to your real limits, because you know that it’s “now or never.”

Competitive women have an amazing sense of what they’re really capable of. They know how it feels to test the boundaries — and sometimes blow right past them.

While I don’t compete anymore, anytime I face a challenge, I’m confident that if I put my mind to it, I can achieve it.

And so can you.

Megan Grant is the owner of Revenue Spark Digital and also teaches freelancers how to build their own businesses. Visit her online.

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