If the Olympics have shown us anything, it’s that a little competition is a good thing. The television ratings are high. We get inspired. Maybe they even get us jazzed about pushing ourselves to try something new. Judo, anyone?
Just like an Olympic athlete who sheds seconds off her time in heat of the moment, competition encourages us to up our game, to show up and perform effectively. And, even for those of us on the sidelines, seeing someone doing something awesomely well is inspiring. Even at work or in our everyday lives…
I know. Competition is everywhere, right now especially, and can make us feel great, when we win. But it also has a dark side. At work, sometimes you’re engaged in a competition you feel you didn’t sign up for. In your personal life, we’re prone to manufacture competitions with people we think have something we want, or can’t have.
Competition often travels with her sister, jealousy, I’ve found. And both have this manipulative way of worming their way deep into our souls. We unknowingly feed them by comparing ourselves to others. And as they grow, they distance us from what we really want.
So here are some reasons to drop out of the competition and really embrace collaboration:
You might learn something: We all bring something unique to the table. Bearing this in mind at work can be hard, especially with the resentments that grow among co-workers. There are also the jaded attitudes and judgments we make based on all the hours we’ve spent together. But, remind yourself that everyone, at every moment, is doing the best they can. And everyone has something to contribute.
You will make connections: When you show up with competition in your heart, you are separate. You are out primarily for your own advancement. It makes it really hard for anyone else to connect with you. But, the moment you let other people in is the instant possibilities open up for you. Some companies encourage this kind of connection. According to a Fortune Magazine article from earlier this year, PepsiCo bases 40% of an employee’s annual bonus on how well he or she helps promising colleagues develop their careers at the company. Even if yours doesn’t, you can be an example of the collaborative spirit. And you can imagine how it might serve you down the road.
You change the view on YOU: Someone who is not only out for herself may have a better rep at work. Someone who is kind, collaborative, and welcoming as a rule will sow what she reaps. It all comes back around. It will make you a more attractive employee in all senses of the word. You’ll attract opportunity and you’ll be attracting the positive vibes you’re putting out there already.
The Buddha is quoted as having said, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
There is enough for everyone. There is never a decreasing supply of anything, just because someone else has it. There is no need to compete. When you see someone with the things you want, try to view it as evidence that the things you want are possible.