From Competitors to Collaborators
Going back thousands of years, fighting for survival has been integral to the human race for obtaining food, shelter, and general resources to stay alive, let alone thrive. Perceiving ourselves or others as ‘being greater than’ is still very prominent in our cultures. From an early age, competition is encouraged. It starts with sibling rivalry, and then at school we are encouraged to compete in races and receive prizes for who gets the top marks in spelling and math.
Profit-driven businesses reward sales people who conquer competitors, including team members, to achieve more sales and pressurise deep supply chain discounts.
The sense of urgency created by the need for comparison, greater productivity, being “bigger and better’ ramps up our stress levels.
When we are highly stressed, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into overdrive, limiting about ability to think clearly. We focus on problems rather than solutions. We react instead of respond. Competition often induces feelings of low confidence and self-esteem.
Is Competition Inherently Wrong?
From the moment we are aware of being an individual (in early childhood) we compare ourselves to others … how much our parents nurture us compared to our siblings, or perhaps in the form of athletic racing, academic ability, humour, strength or even one-handed front wheelies on your BMX (scars to prove it).
Adulting hasn’t changed much either! A better job title, a bigger house, the sleeker, sexier sportscar, the fancier holiday in an exotic location. Think of fitness, physical attributes, sporting prowess, kids’ performance etc. – we’re always showing off in some form or another (this is what drives Instagram).
When we understand that competition comes from our survival instincts and ultimately a fear of lack and scarcity (of there not being enough to go around), we can begin to look at business and supporting others in a different way.
The truth is that the universe is abundant and there are plenty of available resources to make sure that everyone lives a fulfilling life.
Human nature is – by nature – survival of the fittest. Competition often brings out the best in us. It raises our game, extends our self-confidence, and pushes our (self-imposed) limits. It’s what we have been taught to do. It can lead to immense satisfaction and pride in our accomplishments.
Now let’s imagine you are out there, bringing your best game, owning the moment. Your competitive spirit is driving you onward and you’re enjoying the game. But somehow you are not reaching the goals you had set for yourself. You keep hitting that aspirational barrier, no matter how hard you work…
Perhaps it’s time to collaborate and grow together? By playing to each others strengths, we increase our reach, impact, support network and personal enjoyment. We become more effective and efficient.
The Farmers Know a Thing or Two!
Imagine you’re standing in a country field, with farmlands all around. Your farm stall is selling turnips. Or maybe oranges. They’re the best oranges, big and juicy. And full of gorgeous flavour, orangy flavour, if that’s a thing. Your orange stand is beautifully displayed, with yellow streamers flowing in the breeze, and there’s a big green sign in the shape of a tree proclaiming freshness and golden deliciousness from the nearby orchard. And being local, the price is right too! Who wouldn’t want to buy a bag of your perfect oranges?
But you’re all on your own. There’s nobody else around. Your farm stall is in the middle of a grass field. In the middle of nowhere. And nobody knows about it. You look over to the next field. There are a bunch of stalls there. Flower stalls, dairy stalls, potatoes, cabbages for sale, a shoemaker. And best of all, there are customers. Visitors milling about with shopping bags full of local products. Even – horrors – a stall selling oranges.
If you think the best thing to do is to go over there and ‘collaborate’, then you would be right. You’re not taking business away from each other – you’re adding to it.
Everyone is collaborating to help each other out. To bring in the crowds and to help you make your sale, just as much as it helps them to sell their goods. And it’s convenient for shoppers!
You’re all doing the same thing, selling your local products. You’re not being competitive, but working together to increase everyone’s success. Without your neighbour, nobody would know you were there, and without you, nobody would know they were there…
I think of the Channel Tunnel in the same way.
This amazing feat of industrial engineering links the island of England with Europe. Effectively joining Dover to Calais. These giant tunnels, about ten metres in circumference, were dug under the chilly waters of La Manche from both sides.
An English and a French team started out from each shore and began tunnelling toward the opposite side. And they met up in the middle with an error of a couple of inches.
Over a distance of thirty miles. Underground, underwater, effectively blind. A compass doesn’t work down there.
If you think they did this as a competition, you’d be wrong. If you think it was a race to the other side, you’d be mistaken. They collaborated! Despite numerous challenges in language and technology and differences in measurement, their efforts achieved what is still considered a modern-day marvel.
Drop the Fear. Embrace the Heart.
Recognise your strengths and abilities. And then take a look at the strengths and abilities of your ‘competition’. Perhaps they are better at marketing than you are, but you are better at logistics. Maybe they excel at accounting (pun intended) but you excel at sales? How can you work together to help each other grow?
With our unique SkillXChange (community bartering) and method of presenting oneself, NetNomads Community helps members collaborate and support each other. Within this platform, we’d love everyone from all backgrounds, ages and any other demographic box to collaborate, share and flourish in their personal lives and businesses, supporting each other rather than polarising one another.
We are building a private, safe space to help us honour each other’s unique skillsets, as we grow and sparkle together in our professional and personal lives.
So in the spirit of Ubuntu – let’s do this together!