One shall not just keep the eyes on the competitors, but keep laser focus and positive energy flow on building one’s own competence.
Competition is part of nature and human society. In nature, competition is for evolution, in business, competition is for surviving and thriving. Competition is part of the natural dynamics of life. It is part of the genetic bias of every living thing in nature as a survival-seeking mindset. There are ample examples of competitive behaviors in the animal world. In the primitive tropical forest, the competition is bloody and cruel for surviving only. In the silo industrial age, the competition is about commanding & controlling to get the certain order from chaos and keep the status quo; and now we are stepping into a far more advanced digital era steadily, the goal of healthy competition in the human society is to encourage innovation and accelerate the speed of progression. How to set principles to encourage professional competitions and inspire innovation?
Winning with purpose: There are many reasons to compete, and there are many ways to compete. The real issue is that the motivation or purpose behind the competition. Human beings are intelligent and progressive, if we really are as intelligent as we claim to be, we should have principles and disciplines, not just the outdated rules set in the previous era, or the static minds stuck in the old tradition. It’s important to equip with a positive mind, to discern the positive motivation or negative energy behind competition. The purpose of competition is to inspire creative thinking, and as leaders, you need to be more confident and conscious rather than threatened by growth minds or strong characters. Healthy and professional competitions are about winning, but also beyond winning only. Once the leadership starts to understand this basic fact, its mindset changes from that of the limitation to the possibility, and it becomes ready to create or nurture an inclusive environment in which people will genuinely feel good, willingly get involved with commitment, and will demonstrate unimaginable contribution, and the working environment becomes more healthier, happier, and creative. The net result is that many of the complex issues (glass ceiling, favoritism, and other unprofessional syndromes, etc.) will look relatively small to tackle. The professional competitions encourage constructive disruption and radical innovation. If we have two or more ideas, we have competition because of those ideas. Without competition, there would be no innovation. Without innovation, there would be no human progress and technology advancement.
Compete professionally based on capability: Healthy competition wins via ultimate capabilities and unique competency, while unprofessional competition is often based on negative emotions and actions, lack of authenticity. It is the energy behind the competition that matters. Often time, either for individuals or businesses, if you only keep your eyes on competitors and how to beat them down, without laser focus on building your own unique set of competencies based on your own innate ability, you perhaps get trapped towards unprofessional competitions. If businesses or the society has a system where the way to reach the top is to trample on others. It can create unhealthy rivalries that result in workers resenting one another, and workplace being extremely unprofessional. If you only focus on beating down others, without investing yourself, spending time and energy to sharpen your own competency or concentrating on building your own set of capabilities, you also contribute to an unhealthy culture, and show unprofessionalism and lack of wisdom.
Assess the assessors: As old saying goes: the beauty is in the eyes of beholders. Do not judge the book by its cover, etc. How healthy and professional of the competition is dependent on how qualified and wise the judges or assessors are. All power is in the assessors, not in the tests. The quality of assessors is important to the quality of the assessment of competition. How are these people capable to judge others and their capacity as long as they do not know the measurement starting points (= themselves). The assessor is just as important, and even more critical than the rules, because people make rules, and rules can always be updated, if the mind behind the rules is advanced and innovative. Therefore, the quality of competition is not only dependent on the quality of participants, but also the assessors who can drive the competitions toward different directions. With wise assessors and a fair set of principles, the high qualified and professional participants even get respects by competitors. Over time things change, we humans are developing, growing and competing with purpose and choice are part of that process.
Competition, in and of itself, is not inherently bad. The goals of competition can be bad and the competitive arena can produce a myriad of unwise mentality and negative externalities. Healthy competition inspires innovation and progression, unprofessional competition protects status quo. We all have talents each on our own, without negative competitions, we would be able to use our talents and capability for the betterment and further unleash potential; with healthy competitions, we can work harder and smarter to accelerate progression, and bring wisdom to the world.