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  • Writer's pictureNaomi Kitchener

How to win in a competitive world


October 2023

Aloha friends,

This month is a celebration of new chapters at The Lomi Room, with a ceremony to shake up the energy of the house in preparation for the journey ahead. It's a wonderful way to align intention and energy. I share in more depth about this ceremony and other close-up topics in my regular email. If you'd like to be part of the group that gets these email updates please subscribe, we'd love you to join us!

In this blog we're discussing how to win in a competitive world:

Where does our competitive streak come from?

Our competitiveness is like claws on a soft furry paw.

Why is competition good?

The best thing that you can do to win.

How to collaborate.

Don't be a collaboration sleaze.

How competitive are you? Do you love to win or are you competition-adverse? Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle – you don’t identify as being competitive against specific people, but you hustle – so you’re “fighting” for your “share” or space to express yourself.

I discovered my competitive streak when I started long-distance ocean swimming. It demanded training laps in a pool and when my confidence grew I'd pick a swimmer in the lane next to me and swam until my arms, legs and lungs were screaming, just to beat them.

Sometimes, the competitive part within can get out of whack and have a negative impact. We hear complaints about schools that refuse to announce winners because that would mean there are also losers so the solution is to give everybody a medal. We can see relentless competitiveness become unnecessarily brutal when left unchecked. That's when playing a simple game of naughts and crosses is overwhelmingly cutthroat.

Where does our competitive streak come from?

Lomi ‘ili ‘ili is Hawaiian hot stone massage and in alignment with Hawaiian tradition and with the guidance of teacher Kumu Jeana Iwalani Naluai, my journey with lomi ‘ili ‘ili began with an appreciation for the earth from where the healing stones are gathered. Scientists have dated Earth at 4.543 billion years old (for convenience, I usually round down by 43 million years to a tidy 4.5 billion years – lol!) These stones are the earth and my little human brain can’t think of a single thing that is older than that. My appreciation of human’s journey, how long we’ve existed and how much we’ve changed over time has grown. Why are we competitive? Because for a really really long time, humans have lived in an environment where survival was only possible if you were able to win food, shelter and procreation. For a glimpse of what that struggle might have been like, I suggest you watch a season of Alone – a TV programme that sends people into the wild to fend for themselves. You’ll see them competing with mice for lard and stealing mushrooms from squirrels because of the scarcity of resources. It's likely that you've not had to compete to survive the way our ancestors did. Humans have become so good at competing to survive that we thrive. No more searching for food. No more sleeping out in the open.

Finding a mate is competitive and fireflies have an interesting story. Fireflies are bugs that attract a mate by lighting up. At night, they puddle around lighting themselves up periodically and randomly in the hope that a mate will find them in the crowd of fireflies then bada-bing, bada-boom. Scientists have found that the firefly’s success rate is 3% per bug per night – which is apparently pretty good as far as insect romance goes. If we look at modern human romance, there’s a dating app called Hinge which is apparently designed to reduce the chance of being murdered by your date (charming, yet relevant to survival). Hinge’s success rate is 5%, so I guess you could say we’re doing pretty well compared to fireflies?!

Our competitiveness is like claws on a soft furry paw

If you've spent any time with a cat, you'll know they a) have piercing sharp claws encased in b) wonderfully soft furry paws. Business As Usual is the soft furry paw but when needed, the claws come out and boy are they sharp! Cats have incredible dexterity and can protract their claws by the tiniest amount. How is your competitive dexterity? Can you bring it on and then cool it down? Do you know when to use it like a sledgehammer or a fine chisel?

Why is competition good?

We've created a pretty sweet ride - an abundance of food and shelter is better than ever. So why would we want to continue to be competitive? Our brains are still hard-wired to seek reward and pleasure (think about hormones such as dopamine, testosterone and cortisol that cycle through the body). We can use the hormonal tools to either eat ourselves to death or towards a more productive endeavour - you choose! It could be tiddly-winks or darts, running or hobby horsing (look that one up). Other reasons why keeping yourself in good competitive shape is that it enhances critical thinking, decision making and problem-solving. You stand to gain a lot by nurturing healthy competition in your life.

Back to our friends the fireflies. There are two special colonies – one each in the USA and Malaysia. They light themselves up synchronously, which is a fancy way to say they light up at the same time. They take firefly romance to another league, with a success rate of 82% per bug per night. You would think that lighting up at the same time wouldn’t work - that in this competitive environment, the bug that has the brightest light would succeed over the others. Not so, which leads me to...

THE BEST THING THAT YOU CAN DO TO WIN is to collaborate. You don’t have to do it all alone, by yourself. Collaboration is about joining forces by collecting and sharing resources to achieve a common goal. What are you doing alone that could be made easier by teaming up with someone else? You also don’t have to share all your resources.

At The Lomi Room you, might have heard that I have welcomed two wahine toa to work from the space. They each have their own businesses offering different types of wellness services and products and in a sense, they could be considered competition to The Lomi Room. But we are shining our lights together, which is creating more than 3x the impact. We share knowledge which saves resources that can be used in other ways. Collaborating is softening the ”hard” parts and emphasising the “good” parts of doing what we do.

It’s not just The Lomi Room that uses collaboration to an advantage. We see this in retail, where outlets offering similar products locate themselves next to each other which attracts more customers overall. That’s why you find strips of car dealerships and restaurants. When you go to Mission Bay in Auckland, there are five frozen dessert stores to choose from, and they’re all busy!


  1. Get to know your collaborators. Up close. Connect with them and share industry knowledge and news. Building relationships will help you to know who you want to collaborate with.

  2. Be willing to share some of your resources. You might have experience with something that your collaborator is new to, can you offer knowledge, instructions or advice to make it a bit easier for them? Do you share common challenges that you can work on together?

  3. Talk about your micro needs. Others in your group will more likely be able to help you if your request is specific and small.

  4. Don’t suffocate the magic. Shining your lights together and allowing each other the space to be yourselves will take you to another league but it requires reciprocity and a willingness to release a bit of control.

  5. Your best competition is yourself – set goals and work to beat them. Celebrate your wins, learn from your losses and repeat.


I recently had my first experience of "collaboration sleaze" and it left me with an icky feeling. I was in a situation that was called a collaboration when what it really was, was 1) selling 2) prying 3) taking and not reciprocating. Let's compare Collaboration Sleaze to its greasy friend, Networking Sleaze who you may have met before. Networking Sleaze slides into your circle and at the first opportunity starts telling you all about themselves without any effort to get to know you. They will give you their number and delegate an action to contact them "call me". We have all experienced a professional or personal interaction like this. The networking sleaze has a low success rate because people can tell when actions are disingenuous.

How to avoid being a collaboration sleaze:

  • Make genuine connections with people. Think "relationship building". Get to know them and their values. It's better to make one genuine, deep connection than many superficial connections.

  • Don't offer anything you're not willing to follow through on. If you slip up and accidentally leave someone hanging, find a way to set things straight.

  • Start with simple collaborations with a clear beginning and end, such as inviting someone to be part of a promotion you're running.

I invite you to reflect on your relationship with competition.

  1. If you identify as super-competitive but feel isolated, consider the possibility that collaborating with others could help you shift to another league.

  2. If you’re competition-adverse, consider using collaboration to see how other people navigate and let them inspire you.

Engaging the competitive part of you in a healthy way can have wonderful benefits and you might even form new relationships. You're hardwired to compete so why not use the tools available to you.

A hui hou / see you in the flow,

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