Most businesses today, and throughout history, strongly promote competition in the workplace, both inside organizations and in the dealings with the landscape of their industry. It’s a tremendous flaw to take competition too far. It ends up in a winner-takes-all society. Long ago in my career, I myself was consumed by competition.
There was a particular individual in my department that sparked my spirit of competition like no one else. The company that I worked for created an environment of competition, which is not at all uncommon. I was a medical collections specialist. In order to get our DSO (days sales outstanding) to a more manageable position, the organization thought it wise to challenge individuals in the department to out collect other individuals.
Now, this may seem like a healthy company position, but much later I became very aware of how it changed the way that I viewed working with others. Competition for me roused something dark within, it was based on my ego and resulted in a limiting of my spiritual awareness. The very motivation for employees to compromise their values is in winning at all costs.
I now realize that there is a more sought after approach which creates a win-win scenario. Had the company provided a cooperative environment, one that if an individual achieves, we all achieve, I would not have experienced the pressure to compromise my own values. After all, did I want to be recognized as a winner or just someone who participated? When I engaged in this competition with this particular individual, let’s call her Lila for the sake of identification, I became hostile and intense. You see, the victory of one of the competitors implies the defeat of the other and I intended to be victorious.
I was stressing, straining and pushing to do more, be more. I began not taking my breaks or lunches so that I could get more calls in than anyone else. I even went as far as to speak regularly with my manager about how I was putting in the time and effort in order for the company to recognize its goals, while others did not. But this made me a team player…Right? Actually, I now see how I was reducing others to make myself rise and the environment I was in, supported it. I was being recognized for my achievement.
Compassion suffers miserably at the hands of competition, for compassion seeks our common likenesses, not our differences. When engaged in competition it emphasizes our differences in very black and white ways – winners and losers, successes and failures. When immersed in competition it demands violent and destructive energies. Competition isolates, separates, and estranges. While cooperation unites, embraces, and uplifts.
It’s our responsibility to recognize that we can achieve the outcome without the battle. I conducted a large part of my career like it was a war. Who were my competitors in the marketplace and what were they doing (could I emulate them in some way), who were my peers and how could I outshine them to get recognition for my efforts? Whether it be at home, on the field or in the workforce we all have a choice to foster collaboration rather than competition.
When competition is the sole focus it leads to someone somewhere being hurt. Competition, itself, means that the loss of someone is someone else’s gain. Which means; competition is bound to cause hardships and negative experiences for another. If we can find our way toward cooperation, versus competition, everyone wins and we all move forward at a faster rate united as one human race.
There is another important aspect that needs be relayed. While I believe structuring collaboration rather than competition is critical, it is also my belief that it DOES NOT mean that you give rewards simply for participation. We all have perceived failures and successes alike and just like you I’ve faced many challenging circumstances in my life, the perseverance to continue forward despite what we ourselves consider failure is critical to instill. When you begin operating in the presence of trust and love, the answers you seek will unfold before you.