October 14, 2021

Getting Ahead of the Competition

Competition is a powerful force.
Of course, it is!

Just look at how enthralled we are by the Olympics and Paralympics!

And did you see Prince William’s introduction to the new documentary ‘Earthshot’?
Reminding us of the Kennedy-inspired 1960’s competition to land on the moon.
A moment of madness which channelled human genius to achieve the impossible.

Meanwhile, seeing what others are accomplishing can stop us from languishing.
From being overly satisfied with ourselves.
From vegetating.

It shows us what’s possible, which hadn’t even occurred to us.
It can stretch us to heights, lengths and depths otherwise untested.

On the other hand, there’s a darker side to competition.
Particularly when it causes us to forget the purpose of our professional role!
Causes us to behave less than nobly.

We can listen to someone strut on a platform, podium or webinar.
And then feel less than.
Because they seem to have more than.

In doing so…

We become less magnificent, paler, in the glow of their triumphs.
Perhaps believing that our contribution is smaller. Because it’s not like theirs.

Which then redirects our attention.
To spend energy and precious time, trying to emulate them.

Which, of course, misses the point of our work completely!

I remember making a post-conference call to a delegate.
I asked him what he had gained from a particular seminar.

His response stunned me!
“Why would I tell you the ideas I’m developing?
Why would I let the competition know my secrets?”

Such a land-grab mentality leaves us believing that the opportunity to do something wonderful is finite.

Yet, all the while, the opposite is true!
And sharing our thinking, perspectives and energy tends to create far more glorious outcomes than hoarding in self-interest.

A gaggle of inward-facing cultures will never lift an industry or profession towards the best we can be!

And the reason is uncomfortably simple.
We elevate ourselves best when we direct our attention to elevating others.

(In my view, there’s a gold medal in there somewhere.)