In one of my earlier blogs regarding the concept of Love vs. Fear, I wrote about two comparisons of love and fear being Community vs. Alone, and Cooperation vs. Competition. Thanks to a reader’s comment that reminded me that in that blog, I went on to describe my thoughts regarding the Community vs. Alone concept, but I neglected to elaborate on the Cooperation vs. Competition comparison.
So what is competition? In business, a company must defeat or at least outdo the competition in order to “get ahead”. They have to ensure that they create the best marketing story to ensure that any potential customers decide to buy their product rather than the competition’s. From a “competition” perspective, this is the nature of the business world, it’s one of those things that “just is what it is”, and I’m okay with that. If I have the best product or service, it’s up to me to tell my story in a way that my potential customers understand.
But sometimes it seems like there are ulterior motives driving this competition. I’ve recently heard stories where a company learns of one of its competitor’s shortcomings and decides to create a marketing plan to exploit the weakness. So far so good; if a product is inferior then the natural “instinct” of the competitor is to point out the weakness. But it turns out that the original company has the same shortcomings with its own product. But not to worry, that fact can be hidden. If a full out frontal attack is set up against the competitor, no one will stop to ask if “our” product has the same issue. What? Seriously? Does this feel “right?” Does this feel like the “spirit” of competition? Does this not feel like the company is seeking to deceive the public? The sad part is that this type of deception happens all the time. It happens in the pharmaceutical industry, it happens in the telecommunications industry, it happens everywhere.
It seems to be that the sheer definition of competition – when looked at this way – implies that there’s not enough of something to go around so we have to compete for it. Is this true? Is there not enough to go around? Or is it that the company is driven by a form of greed for the purpose of “increasing shareholder value” or “maximizing employee and executive bonus plans?” To be clear, I’m not suggesting that all companies are like this, but it seems like the bigger companies get, the more they become focused on a “win at all costs” mentality that doesn’t necessarily serve the “greater good”.
Enough about competition, where does cooperation fit in? A very common word that I’m hearing nowadays is “collaboration”, working together with others such that all parties achieve more than they could on their own. I don’t think I can describe collaboration any better than the following story.
An anthropologist studying the habits and customs of an African tribe found himself surrounded by children most days. So he decided to play a little game with them. He managed to get candy from the nearest town and put it all in a decorated basket at the foot of a tree.
Then he called the children and suggested they play the game. When the anthropologist said “now”, the children had to run to the tree and the first one to get there could have all the candy to him/herself.
So the children all lined up waiting for the signal. When the anthropologist said “now”, all of the children took each other by the hand and ran together towards the tree. They all arrived at the same time, divided up the candy, sat down and began to happily munch away.
The anthropologist went over to them and asked why they had all run together when any one of them could have had the candy all to themselves.
The children responded: “Ubuntu. How could any one of us be happy if all the others were sad?”
Ubuntu is a philosophy of African tribes that can be summed up as “I am what I am because of who we all are.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu gave this explanation in 2008 :
“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
This is the true spirit of human development and cause of human evolution. Ubuntu. Once again, we are proud to say Ubuntu, I am what I am because of who we all are. This is not a story as such, but a feeling to be expressed.
What do I think? I think that in the vein of Love vs. Fear, cooperation is very much based on working together and in the vein of Love. Competition is very much based on thoughts such as Greed, Entitlement and Fear.
“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
― Harry S. Truman
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