Get Fit contestant Gunter enjoying his fitness ride

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Randy Gunter, partner and creative director of The Gunter Agency, who is competing in the individual challenge.

Competition can bring out the best in a person. People in business hear this mantra drilled into them all the time. Just think of all the sports phrases that have worked their way into the business lexicon …

It’s down to the wire. We need to meet our sales goals, so let’s make this kickoff meeting a slam dunk. We’re neck and neck with our competitors and we don’t want to take our eye off the ball now. Here’s the game plan: Find those heavyweight prospects and put a full-court press on those accounts. If we strike out on one, we’ll punt and figure out a way to level the playing field. Okay, the ball is in your court now. Go out and hit a home run.

Business books and magazines, motivational speakers, and your boss all want you to win at the game. But what if the game isn’t necessarily one that needs to be won? My mother used to simply say, “Do your best.” Hmm, can we be happy and successful even if we aren’t number one?

Over my life, I’ve been extremely competitive. I was an athlete in school and played to win. In my early years in business, I loved the competitiveness of winning new accounts. I took it personally if we didn’t land an account, even if we might not have been as qualified as our competitor. I was into competing for awards and was thrilled when those came in and disappointed when they passed us by. (We’re in the advertising business and there are more award competitions in our industry than in any given sport.)

As I’ve gotten older, my perspective has changed. Over the past several years, we have only entered two awards competitions. One we entered because our account had been bought by another company and we wanted to prove to this new entity that our work was of the highest caliber. We won the national award but still lost the account. Kind of shows how much those awards mean. The other one was free to enter, and so we did. (They did ask for money for statuettes after we won, which we decided we didn’t really need.)

We’re also not out competing for new business much anymore. And the funny thing is we have never been busier. New business is finding us, and our current clients continue to expand and add to our workload.



I guess the only thing I am trying to say is being competitive and achieving goals aren’t necessarily the same thing. You can use one to spark the other, but you don’t necessarily have to. That’s where we’re at with our business. Not trying to beat my competitors, just trying to help my clients. We’re helping them reach their goals, so I guess there is still a little bit of competitiveness in our court. (Boy, it’s hard not to use those sports idioms in business writing, isn’t it?)

That’s kind of where I’m at with the Get Fit Challenge, too. I didn’t sign up with the intent of needing to win. The challenge for me is my own personal challenge: Can I improve? Can I rewire my brain to create new habits? I don’t even care if anyone notices, as long as I know that I am incrementally improving my health. So far I’ve had a couple setbacks, with old sports injuries wanting to flare up, but I can tell that I am moving in the right direction week after week.

So am I saying that competition is bad? Of course not. Sometimes we want and need the competition. What I am saying is that sometimes you can grow and build and achieve without that ultracompetitive mindset.

Ultimately I’ll make the comparison between a bike race and a bike ride. Both bring physical benefits. In a competitive bike race, you are worrying more about road conditions, bike performance, physical exertion levels, and what your competitors are doing. On a bike ride, hopefully you are enjoying the fresh air, beautiful surroundings, and perhaps good company riding beside you. Both the bike race and the bike ride can bring personal satisfaction. Both have their own approaches and end goals. But, in my opinion, it would be foolish to want to take a bike ride and then approach it like a bike race.

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