Success at What Cost?

In God We Trust

This blog isn’t just a blog, it’s a community – a group of forward-thinking individuals who share opinions and engage in compelling conversation. As I hope to inspire and enlighten some of you, you in turn keep my mind fresh with new ideas and perspectives in the comments you leave. This was especially true last week. Karen Au, fellow blogger and tweeter, left some thoughts on my post “Start Changing the World. Today” that really struck a nerve with me:

“What many around the world are FINALLY realizing is that we do not have to fight for resources. We have to stop thinking that one person’s success is another person’s failure.

There’s enough room in this world for all of our brilliance to shine. We simply have to appreciate each other and work together, sharing resources. By doing so, we ALL benefit. We do not have to succeed at the expense of others. This is a very primal, old-aged and worn way of thought that unfortunately seems to continue to pervade people’s competitive nature. Me to We is at work, but there’s still a long way to go.

Something else to think about: not only is “shaudenfreude” harmful, but it’s counter-intuitive. If we succeed at the expense of others, there goes potential supporters for our cause. But if we succeed WITH others, there we have it: all-round support for our dreams and goals. Exponential growth, instead of dividing our humanity.”

How spot on is this? Throughout our lives we are told that life is about competition – it’s about being better than everyone else, and that in order to get ahead, others must fail. Competition is all around us, it’s at the core of our personal philosophy, professional lives, government strategy, etc.

But what many are starting to understand is the idea that success does not have to come at another’s expense -While healthy competition can motivate and drive us, there is real value in another “C” word: COLLABORATION. As Ana says, “When we succeed at the expense of others, we lose their support.” When we collaborate and push one another to rise above mediocrity and redefine success – we all end up better in the end.

As the old saying goes, “It’s always lonely at the top”. My question is, “Does it have to be”? Instead of putting each other down, why not work to pick each other up and build on each other’s success? There’s plenty of success to go around, stop focusing on saving it all for yourself.

How do you measure success? What are your thoughts on competition vs. collaboration? Is there room for both?