A competitive nature is something that we’ve been conditioned and taught to value. When we hear someone labeled as a winner, we equate that with tireless energy, unyielding effort and unlimited potential. The word is synonymous with success and everyone wants a winner on their team.
When we enter a competition to win a prize, we strive for first place. We want to rise above the others, earning points to gain an advantage that will earn us the victory. It’s a concerted effort combined with skill, prowess and focus.
If flying solo, we forge forward with commitment and determination, eyes on the prize. When on a team, we share the same vision and goals, working together to collectively win.
But what about the person who has to win at all costs, even to the detriment of those around her?
There’s a positive and a negative connotation associated with competitiveness and winning. And which side of the coin we are on depends on a number of variables including personality attributes like character, integrity, morality and maturity.
We’ve all encountered the person who is in a constant state of competition – they have to win at anything and everything. They can also suck the life and joy out of everyone around them, finding themselves alone because eventually people tire of their ego. There’s no sense of humor, no labor of love and no trust established because everyone knows that the person is all about, well, her. Often she takes herself so seriously that there is no room for anyone else – let alone a shared victory. She is her only priority.
When we apply this personality type to business or corporate America, we can find ourselves in the throes of office politics. This individualistic competitor can pit people against each other, resulting in a dysfunctional workplace. Rather than fostering a community of excellence and success, leading by example, they create a cutthroat culture filled with cliques, pettiness and distrust. We see at work, we see it in life.
These are the people who rise to the top, no matter how ruthless they need to be to get there. These are the people who take credit for the work done by others, the people who won’t share information that would give others on their team a chance to shine. Because they need to be in the spotlight at all times, to win at all costs.
Yet in the end, no one wins.
In an organization, as in life, each business group (or community) needs to have the best interest of the company (or the world) at heart – not themselves. It’s great to take the lead and surpass other teams in sales goals or other measurable objectives, but they must allow for multiple wins across the board to succeed.
When teams that are supposed to have shared goals are individualistically driven, the whole is not greater than the sum of their parts. They must compete together rather than against each other.
To compete with one’s self is an admirable quality. When a person is continuously working to be a better version of herself every day, it’s inspiring. She doesn’t compete with her fellow man because she is confident in her abilities and humble in her successes. She may not like, yet accepts, defeat through the lessons she’s learned and wisdom she’s gained. She then applies that knowledge to her next endeavor, trusting in herself to excel and collaborate effectively with the goal of supporting everyone in getting ahead.
It’s important to have a winning attitude. But it’s even more important to have a willingness to share that spotlight and let others shine.
The winner can take it all – when she gives all and includes all.