Comparison, Challenge and Competition: the 3 Cs of Motivation

Three letter Cs made up of pictures of people

The popularity of fitness apps like Fitbit, Strava and Garmin Connect show that we are significantly more likely to strive for and achieve our goals when we are challenging ourselves and others.

By gaining insights into our own performance, such as speed, effort, distance etc we are able to challenge ourselves to exceed our previous Personal Bests.  However, looking at our own personal achievements sometimes isn’t enough, which is why so many people choose to socialise their data and share their progress with their peers. During lockdown this has become even more important as previous team mates and gym buddies are no longer able to compete physically together. The success of virtual challenges and races has proven that there is nothing quite as motivating as healthy competition.

The principle of peer review was behind the development of miPerform from the very start. Our whole ethos is that being able to compare our results, challenge ourselves and generate competition in the workplace, is an empowering and motivating and helps us to better self-manage. 


Comparison enables us to orientate ourselves by giving us perspective on our performance, without it, there’s no context and we’re operating in a vacuum.  

By comparing ourselves to our previous performance we can track our progress over time and push ourselves to continuously improve. We can take this further by comparing our performance to our peers, giving us a sense of what might be possible and helping us to set stretching but realistic objectives. Perhaps most importantly we can compare our performance to our goals and measure how far we have to go or to celebrate the fact that we’ve already made it!


Challenge helps us to learn and to gain focus and momentum, it’s not always the most comfortable place to be but it fosters creativity and motivates people to achieve through a strong desire to overcome problems and succeed.  

New and more effective ways of working often only arise from new challenges as we are forced to use our creativity to problem solve When we overcome new challenges we are often surprised with our own ability to resolve what may have seemed like an insurmountable problem and the sense of achievement and satisfaction can be huge. Over time, taking on and overcoming new challenges becomes less intimidating and even enjoyable, the eventual satisfaction of the achievement (and sometimes even the difficult journey itself!) creating lasting motivation and the momentum to ‘go again’.   


Without an element of competition, people rely on their own performance and experience to motivate themselves. This of course works to a degree, but competitive environments help embed a culture that rewards effort and achievement and makes people feel more valued as they receive validation, support and recognition from those around them. It also adds to the fun and energy of being part of a team. 

When in competition we are driven to stretch ourselves and achieve things that  have previously seemed impossible. When Roger Bannister broke the ‘mystical barrier’ of the four minute mile, his record was subsequently beaten by 16 runners in the next three years, because there was a new understanding of what was ‘possible’.

Validation and acknowledgement are important factors in enabling people to push boundaries, even though Bannister was the first to break the record, the attention that he received didn’t dishearten his competitors, it in fact gave them a renewed confidence to continue to push for better and better times.

Although competition creates ‘winners and losers’ a healthy competitive environment can create belonging through shared values and  goals and it creates growth for everyone involved. It’s not  just about individuals, it’s important to look at team and group motivation through competition too, the bonds created between team mates on ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ are just as strong.

The impact of remote working

So how do we translate these principles into a remote working environment? People are working well at home, but we are all missing the camaraderie, banter and healthy competition of sharing a physical space with our colleagues. Teams and Zoom calls help fill the gap for communication, but how can we feel like we’re really contributing our best at work without knowing how we and our co-workers are performing?

As we see more and more remote working the three C’s become more valid and important. There’s no physical pat on the back at the end of the week to celebrate a target smashed, so it’s important to consider how we virtualise these principles so we continue to grow.

Read more about Home Working specifically in our White Paper

In summary

The three C’s are incredibly powerful at moving us forward and speak to the very essence of what has made humans so successful. A word of caution though, with great power comes great responsibility and too much of a good thing is not always good for us! If for example we constantly compare ourselves to others without the perspectives of where we are on our own journey and an understanding of what is a realistic goal for us, we can feel demotivated so it is important that we are operating in an open, supportive and healthy environment. Setting unrealistic goals without sufficient information, tools and support will lead into a negative spiral not the virtuous cycle of growth and learning we are trying to achieve. 

With more and more remote working across businesses our ability to create and control the right environment is compromised, so it is more important than ever to make sure we all have the information, tools and support that we need to create the environment where Comparison, Challenge and Competition can help us to thrive.

miPerform provides a virtual environment that is more akin to Strava and Garmin than to your normal data dashboards and static statisticss in an Excel spreadsheet. If you would like to hear more about our solutions, which are designed around these founding principles, get in touch to organise a demo and we’ll show you how we can help with all three.

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