True competition demands our best. Being competitive makes us push ourselves. It makes us put our best out there. It makes us care. Efficient learning and a pure competitive state share many of the same attributes.
I recently began learning to play Squash. I started this with a friend, that has progressed equally. We are both competitive and driven not just to beat each other, but to improve. This competitive edge has led to a rate of disproportional improvement for both of us. We both have suffered defeats. We have both have been forced to abandoned successful strategies in an attempt to improve because stagnation in the face of progress is quickly exposed.
Competition provides each of us a reason to be vulnerable. It forces us to give a full effort, and in the case of failure, there are no excuses, only fault. Optimal learning occurs not when you're comfortable, not when you're scared, but when you're in the happy middle of having something to lose. Risking your best effort is the perfect wager.
There are limits to the benefits of competition. If it's obsessive or overly consuming, like anything without balance, this is just the same. But a simple cost-benefit as proven to me over and again that environments entirely lacking competitions have far less value than the alternative.
Jim Rohn claims "You are the average of the closest 5 people to you." Curating this group of people is so important. Careful self-awareness is accurate contemplation the amalgam. I make a concerted effort to always introduce some true, healthy competition into the mix and see results. The periods in my life where I'm the I person I most proud of always blend a bit of healthy competition into the mix.