Are you a Contender or Pretender?

My book, “You are a Contender! Build Emotional Muscle to Perform Better and Achieve More – in business, sports and life” looks at this question and helps people begin making the shift through a variety of practical tools. Building emotional muscle is not easy and takes time. That is one of the primary reasons many don’t have it. For some people who take the microwave approach to building emotional muscle – the shift can be frustrating. But for those who take the “crockpot” approach, the shift is rewarding and sustainable. It opens the world up to new possibilities – and gives them the ability to set and reach goals – and surprise themselves on the playing field or wherever they are performing. It becomes the bedrock for moving forward in high performance and leadership.

Haime-Contender coverWhat might be the different between Contenders and Pretenders?

Contenders and pretenders will often look the same to you or me, but they are very different.  A contender is an authentic individual who can sustain performance over time. A contender is consistent. A pretender is an actor that struggles to repeat performance. Here’s a few key ways that pretenders and contenders are different:

Contenders are: Pretenders are:
able to gobble up pressure gobbled up by pressure
comfortable in their own skin not quite comfortable
connected with core values and live them constantly changing values to meet needs and situation
proactive reactive
looking in the mirror and changing what they don’t like avoiding the mirror and staying the same
creating impressions that last over time creating great first impressions but can’t sustain a lasting impression
asking others how they are doing relying on their own bias view of themselves
committed to long-term improvement using band-aid fixes for short-term gain
writing down specific goals and committing to them creating loose goals that don’t require absolute commitment
courageous and confident prisoners to fear
disciplined lacking control
playing to their own standards playing to the expectations of others
original focused on others’ thoughts/ideas


The qualities of a Contender and a Pretender often relate back to levels of self-awareness – how well a person knows themselves and how aware they are of how emotions impact them from minute to minute. Contenders are committed to values, have a vision of where they’ re going and are able to articulate the plan and steps to get there.

Have a look at the characteristics in the chart above and see how many characteristics of a contender you have. In the coming blog posts, we’ll look at how you can build the characteristics of a contender and therefore get closer to high performance.