Replace internal competition with mutually beneficial and encouraging cooperation.
We all begin learning a lesson when we are very young. There are many ways to express this lesson, but perhaps American race car driver Dale Earnhardt said it best: “Second place is just the first loser.”
Like it or not, we’ve all been conditioned to believe that there can be only one winner. Unfortunately, this mindset can be very limiting.
If there is one sand pail and two children, only one ends up with the pail. Only one team can win the World Cup or the Super Bowl. If one is a winner, then the other must be . . . that ugly word . . . the loser. It is natural, then, that we spend our time and energy trying to ensure that we will be the winners, and others the losers.
But this needn’t be the case. Consider the following: Several children were playing near an abandoned railroad track. They were having a contest to see who could balance and walk the farthest without falling off the rail.
After the children made several attempts, two of the girls bet the others that they could walk the entire length of the track without falling off. The boys laughed and eagerly took them up on the bet. Then the two girls mounted opposite rails, leaned into each other, clasped hands for balance, and easily walked the entire length.
So it is with the adult world. Too many of us assume that for us to succeed, someone else must fail. This attitude leads to counterproductive internal rivalries, which may bleed the life out of an organization. Replace internal competition with mutually beneficial and encouraging cooperation, and focus your competitive energies and resources outside the company where they are truly needed.
Eliminate the notion that there must be one winner and all the rest losers. Like the girls on the railroad track, find the win-win solution and extend a supporting arm to those who work with you. You will help yourself, your team, department, organization, and company in the process. The final result may blow the real competition out of the water.
A few tips:
- Yes, occasional internal rivalries and competition can be productive—to a point. But it must never overshadow the emphasis of directing necessary energy and resources outside in the marketplace.
Your primary competition should be directed at your competitors.
- Think of additional internal alliances and support networks that build and strengthen your organization from within. Help them feel united.
- Make everyone in your team a winner.