Monday, April 30, 2012

Competition vs Cooperation (1)

One of the major problems with America today is it's concentration on competition over cooperation.  Competition can turn really ugly when it switches to survival mode.  Fortunately America has not yet made that switch, because if it does...things could get out of hand real quick.

A great leadership book was recommended to me from a very wise lady when I worked at Reynolds and Reynolds.  This lady was one of the most amazing woman I have ever met.  She knew herself very well, and the talents that she has are off the charts.  She's the kind of person that could fire you and you'd feel great about it.  She told me to read "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team". 

She said, "Gary, you may not know why you are reading it now...but one day you'll understand."

Like a good soldier, I went out and read that book.  It isn't listed as one of my recommended reading books yet, but it will be.

Someplace that competition happens all the time is with family.  Especially when it comes to in-laws.  Always a competition to gain someones approval over someone else.  Grandparents spoiling grand kids to show who is the best.  Brothers and sisters competing to get parents attention (good or bad).  I'm not quite sure why it happens, but it does.  Then if one kid gets more than another, jealousy ensues.  This jealousy typically doesn't stem from one kid to the other, but rather from one side of the family's parent to the other.  Why does your mom buy your sister's kids more presents than us? sister is thinking the opposite.  It is a crazy world we live in.

In my own family, my younger sister has been in a constant competition with me since she was born.  Constantly struggling to get mom or dad's attention and affection.  Worst part was many times she did this at the detriment of me.  Because everyone knows if you pull someone down to your level it is easier to outshine that person.  My sister recently has gone through some pretty big life changes, and I'm hoping that she has learned a great deal from the experience.  I think deep down she might feel she is a couple steps behind me all the time.  I wish she would realize that she is 3 very long years younger than me, and will never catch up.  Besides, there isn't anything to catch up with since we are both on the same team!

Cooperation is the opposite, and frankly, much harder to achieve.  Instead of pushing someone down, you have to pull them up.  Gravity works against you.  How do you pull someone up to your level?  Well, first of all the person you are pulling has to want to change.  This is life's biggest challenge.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  

If you ever tried to help someone up, they could pull themselves up while bringing you down.  Life is too short to go around pushing people around and bringing them down.  When I was in middle school...I was that kid.  I didn't want to be that kid, but I was past competition, and went into survival mode.  Middle school is a tough time in a young person's life.  I certainty wouldn't ever want to experience those days ever again.

I am constantly trying to learn new things.  Something I learned from my decision support class I took recently for my job was the different stages of a team.  These stages are Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.  This is an interesting topic to explore.

It is my hope that my family can eventually work together as a team.  Nothing is more powerful than a family that knows how to work together to achieve a goal.  Life is a team sport...and it is critical that you build a strong family.  Some people have a good foundation when they are born.  Others may have to start from scratch.  Each generation has a decision as to whether they will build up the family...or cause division.  This is the same with our country.  We can either be on the same team and work together...or compete against each other.  For now, it appears the country have chosen competition over cooperation.  It doesn't have to be this way.

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