Competition vs. Working Together

We hear time and time again that competing with one another is what makes the U.S. great and it inspires people to achieve, improve and make things better.  For those of you who are already siding with with this argument I’m going to tell you why you’ll always lose both in the short-term and in the long-run.

Now, the arguments in supportive of competition are tempting.  They speak of greatness, power, fame, prestige, notoriety and fortune.  Oh how delicious this sounds!  And when working together or collaborating is thought of it’s usually associated with weakness, the loser and people who don’t take pride in what they do.  At least, the argument goes something like this.  But competition and the idea of it is absolutely a trick because it forces us to determine winners and losers.  It can inspire and feed aggression and greed.  But those of you who side with competition don’t see a problem with this, or at least in part, right?

Working together seems bland, boring and the idea of the gold medal is gone.  How dull is that!?  But actually, it’s not.  Working together can actually inspire even more greatness than we could ever imagine.  The plain truth of it all is that everyone will not be the best.  It’s just not possible so it’s a losing scenario.  And if we give up competing with one another we can actually support each person’s efforts to be their best.  Sound cheesy?  Well, think about it.

Let’s take a simple example where people think that they win but they actually lose and it’s something that you can see for yourself everyday if you drive a car where there’s congestion.  The people who want to win speed ahead to the front when they merge into traffic.  I see this almost daily here in Chicago.  But what happens?  The people who don’t work with everyone else to merge and blend well, the ones who speed ahead, are the ones who are causing a lot of the traffic to slow down because there’s no room for them.  Also, the people who don’t make space for people merging (refusing to lose or give up “their space”) also cause everyone to slow down.

Now if everyone merged perfectly in the most congested highway there would still be some slowing down but everyone’s speed would increase because they’re all working together.  And that’s the point, we’re all in this together and we all want the same things.  So sure, fight with someone to get 75 feet further or to refuse to let them into traffic and you’ve already lost because you’re expending a lot of energy to ensure that you lose.  If you work with everyone, you can relax and even enjoy the dance that everyone does.  As silly as it might sound to some, it can actually be a pretty beautiful thing!

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