Admittedly, I’m a very competitive person. My father was extremely competitive and I learned it from him. But over the years, I’ve tried to direct my competitive nature as appropriate.
Here’s an example: I’m the owner of a small human resources consulting firm. There are other owners of small HR consulting firms that offer the same services. When bidding on business, some days I’m selected for the assignment. Other days, another firm is selected. And, some days I partner with another firm to work on a project. That’s because our combined talents are what’s best for us and the client.
In theory, is that other consulting firm a competitor? Sure. But they’re also a potential collaborator.
Should you pay attention to what the other firm is doing? Absolutely. My guess is they’re paying attention to you. But that doesn’t mean everything someone else does will be right for your company – and vice versa.
Over the years, I’ve discovered the best way to deal with competition is to point it inward. When I meet people who really have it together and inspire me, instead of focusing my energies on squashing them…I use that energy to make myself better. There are two reasons for doing it:
- I get better at something.
- I can eventually collaborate with that awesome person.
Obviously, there are moments when the situation calls for one winner. And that’s fine. When it happens, being a gracious winner and/or loser will say volumes about you. Are you allowed to celebrate the win? Hells yeah. And your competition (for lack of a better word) will be happy for you. Because now you’re inspiring them to be better.
That’s what competition is all about. It’s a balancing game. It’s about knowing the difference between situations that only allow for “winners and losers” versus opportunities to create a “win-win”. If you play your cards wrong, it can alienate people. And when you need collaborators, none will be around.
But if you play the cards right, you can “win” beyond your wildest dreams. And, isn’t winning what competition is all about anyway?