Why Internal Competition Rules & External Competition Drools
Last week, I wrote a post where I compare life and our businesses to hummus. Hummus is one of those recipes that has been around for centuries (I assume. I didn’t even check Wikipedia to see if it was true, though.) but we all put our own little twists on. Green olives instead of black, a touch of cayenne, a special olive oil. You know what I mean.
In it, I said, “Without getting into why I think the idea of competition (beyond the internal kind) is a red herring to begin with, I will say: yeah, sure, sometimes ideas get nicked.”
My NoBS self feels the need for a disclaimer at this point. I have never played sports. I only vaguely get the appeal. I do like to win Scrabble but only if it’s a really close, hard-fought game. A shut-down just makes me feel mean.I just have no context for or interest in competition that plots me against anyone else.
I would love for one of you who does get the appeal of external competition to write a counter-point post. Really truly. I’ll gladly publish it right here!
Meanwhile, back in this post:
My beef with external competition – that is, competition with other people, businesses, teams, etc – is that is seems reactionary and limiting. If I’m competing against you, I’m paying attention to what you’re doing and shaping my responses accordingly.
In a competitive world, research grants go to scientists who fit within the zeitgeist rather than those who are chasing theories for the sake of seeing what info they might turn up.
In a competitive world, I’ve got one eye over my shoulder, protecting my ideas, scanning for encroachers, rather than focusing that energy toward more fully exploring my own vision and beliefs on quality and approach.
In a competitive world, I can win or lose, succeed or fail, both dichotomies that ignore the many benefits in between, like gaining deeply useful insight about yourself or your business, making new business contacts, being inspired in new directions, or realizing an idea might be good but not good for you.
In a competitive world, what’s left to motivate us if our nemesis drops out of the picture?
That’s why I think we have to find that sense of motivational competition from within. For me, my ideas about the quality of services I want to provide, the kind of compassionate impact I want to have on others’ lives, the kind of wife and daughter and friend I want to be keep me striving to improve.