The shared topic this week for the Compelled Tribe is one about competition vs.collaboration. My philosophy and experiences are that they are not mutually exclusive. Below I share one of my experiences and wonder if you have experienced anything like what I describe.
“You’re competitive, not collaborative.”
That is what a former boss told me.
How did I respond? I didn’t. I was so shocked at being told this that I was silenced. (I had been given many other shocking “critiques” while working for this boss.)
Here’s what I wish I had said:
Yes, I am competitive. You know who I compete with? Myself. I want to be great, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most people I know don’t want to just be mediocre.
When I belong to a team, I want our team to be the best. So I will do everything I can to make sure that I contribute in a way that will help the team (school, organization, group, etc) to be successful. So, yes, you’ve seen my competitiveness come out. I wanted our school to be great... better than the rest, in fact.
Do you call me competitive because I don’t agree with you all the time? Or because I don’t agree with others all the time? Doesn’t that make us stronger… when we share our ideas and opinions and find the “best” idea for the team, no matter whose idea it is?
My track record is one of competitiveness and collaboration. They co-exist. I have spent a career and life working well with others -- contributing, listening, designing, sharing, pushing, pulling, and creating with others.
You've never seen me resist collaboration. You did see me encourage it.
So get it right. I am competitive. I’m also collaborative.
Have you ever experienced anything like this? If so, how did you handle it? Do you agree that competition and collaboration can co-exist?