Setting your 2022 goals? Choose competitive learning for personal development – WRAL TechWire

Setting your 2022 goals? Choose competitive learning for personal development – WRAL TechWire

Editor’s note: Veteran entrepreneuer and investor Donald Thompson writes a column exclusively for WRAL TechWire about entrepreneurship, leadership, equality and opportunity. His columns appear on Wednesdays.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in continuous self improvement. If you read this column often, you might already know that I often describe myself as a competitive learner, and this quality is something I look for in others as well. What that means is that I like to surround myself with friends, colleagues, advisors, and employees who not only demonstrate a growth mindset but participate in learning as if it were a sport, consistently pushing themselves for a personal best. 

Starting next month, I’ll be diving into the most important leadership trends of 2022 with actionable advice about how to integrate these trends into your daily leadership behavior. Follow along with me and you’ll notice a theme: competitive learning is the centerpiece to personal development. With that theme in mind, today I want to share a republication of a previous column I wrote on this topic. 

If you find it helpful, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m always looking to grow my network with people who are committed to their own development and open to where new learning might lead them. Alright, here we go.


Competitive learning is similar to learning agility, which Harvard Business Review defines as the “qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” In other words, learning agility means being open to change and ready to go wherever a great idea might lead you. 

Competitive learning is learning agility plus hustle. It means actively and relentlessly pursuing information, challenges and opportunities for growth. Like any sport, competitive learning also means you’re always competing to be better than your former self. It means training, growing and winning on game day because you did the work to prepare. To do so, you must prioritize your personal development and keep yourself open to new insights and learning opportunities, no matter where they come from. 


In this quick-changing market, competitive learning is a leadership imperative. As corporate executives, our business success hinges on our ability to innovate quickly, synthesize information, make strong decisions with limited scope and constantly evolve. We cannot know which skills will make the critical difference in each day’s success, so we must remain vigilant and continually in search of new and stronger ideas. We must constantly refresh our personal skill set to match the pace of the digital, global marketplace and immediately apply the insights we have learned to activate change and critical thinking. 

Here are four key traits that define a competitive learner. 

  • A competitive learner is a like a cup of coffee

You know that moment after …….