competitive streaks

Some of the most bitter creative rivalries have produced inspiring innovations that may not have been possible without that competitive energy: Edison vs. Tesla or Microsoft vs. Apple, for example. While these high-stakes battles were fraught with animosity and lawsuits, competition itself isn’t necessarily a negative thing. When harnessed in pursuit of professional goals — and kept in check through some creative safeguards — it can often be the positive boost you need to achieve impressive results in your career.

focus your energy

Competition focuses your mental energy by reducing the noise of the world around you and singling out the specific next step that will get you closer to achieving your goal. Like blinders on a horse, this focus comes with a sense of urgency that propels you forward.
We all rely on our personal reputations to get ahead professionally, and so a hunger to be better than others is a necessary aspect of working in the creative economy. Deep down, we all have it; it’s just a matter of finding your comfort zone with competition and nurturing it for positive benefit. Even the most self-disciplined creatives can find themselves working on a higher level when spurred on to win a race.

make strong teams stronger

Focusing on achieving professional goals translates well from an individual to an agency environment — especially when the nature of the competition affects a team-wide project with clear deliverables. Most of us at some point have experienced the rush of a well-executed project that comes together seamlessly just before a major deadline. When you combine a ticking clock with a competent team that’s energized by a challenge, the magic is unmistakable.
This is a dream scenario for most senior execs who are frequently faced with the need to create a productive bond in teams they supervise. The trick is in demonstrating the individual benefits of competing, while also softening the negative repercussions that can come with an office environment driven by those individual benefits.

navigate the negativity

Some of us just aren’t energized by competition, and that’s totally understandable. No one wants to feel pressured into proving their expertise against others. It doesn’t always result in the kind of creative boost experienced by others. And even for those who thrive on a good creative rivalry, there’s a very real danger that your motivation can turn against you; the internal voice that pushes you onward can become the critic that is never satisfied with your efforts.
The key to protecting yourself, or your team, from feeling overwhelmed by the negative side of competition is celebrating successes. The purpose of pushing yourself and your peers should be to achieve greater creative results, and anything that takes you in that direction — even on the smallest scale — should be celebrated. We’re all a bit fragile sometimes, and in the midst of a competitive rivalry, the best thing we can do for ourselves and each other is just stay focused on getting better.

fire up your competitive side

It’s not too difficult to bring a sense of competition into your professional life. The first step is establishing your goals and expectations for yourself. You can compete on sliding scale, from strengthening relationships to peers who share your goals and studying their work, to researching hotshots in your field who seem to be one or two steps ahead of you — and “chasing” their success.
The next step is just doing the work, and doing it to the best of your ability. Create benchmarks to check in with your progress and how your work compares to those you’re competing with. It’s important to stay focused on your goals and work within a tight timeline if you want to feel that rush of rivalry. Just keep in mind that this is about what you want to achieve, not what others have already achieved. You’ll be surprised with the quality of work you’re capable of when you embrace a healthy sense of competition.

[via 4ormat]

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Tom Foerstel : Founder & President

Tom Foerstel

Founder & President

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 60’s, Tom developed a strong desire to create positive change for people and planet.


He went on to pursue his passion for art and design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and worked for design firms in Southern California before moving to Boise, Idaho in the early 80’s. Foerstel Design opened its doors in 1985. Since its inception, the firm has cultivated a bold, happy, forward-looking team focussed on creating distinct and effective work on behalf of their clients.


An integral part of Tom’s philosophy is giving back to the community in which he lives — a company cornerstone that drives Foerstel’s long history of providing pro-bono services to local non-profit humanitarian and arts programs.


One of Tom’s proudest personal achievements is his ability to say Supercalifragilisticexpyalidocious backwards.