Our society has been touting the benefits of good ol’ fashioned competition for centuries.
We laud being competitive because “…it brings out the BEST in us,” we’re told. “Competition makes us smarter, faster, and stronger,” they say. “You must compete to win…!” is a phrase I’ve heard more times than I can count.
Competition is important, I certainly agree.
But does it really bring out our best? Sometimes ….while other times it can bring out our ‘beast’, our worst qualities and characteristics.
Are we really getting smarter, faster, and stronger through competition? Possibly … but how fast can you run when you are looking over your shoulder at who is closing the gap?
Do we really need to compete to win? Maybe … but what if ‘winning’ isn’t always the goal? Striving to do well might not always result in a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’.
In many cases, competition might spur personal and professional achievement.
However, decades of research in business, education, economic development, health care, and even professional athletics are demonstrating that something else drives innovation, creativity, profitability, and overall success even more than competition.
That “something else” is cooperation.
Usually seen as the antithesis of competition, cooperation is becoming the hidden secret to success in a variety of interesting ways.
Business leaders who rate high on scales of cooperation and openness are seeing faster rates of growth and profitability in their companies. Students who are learning in cooperative learning environments are scoring higher on standardized tests and demonstrating higher rates of learning retention.
Corporations that are viewed by the public as cooperative and community-oriented have a greater sense of public trust, and a greater market share to go with it. Professional athletes who train cooperatively with a partner or team rate higher on overall scales of fitness and longevity in the sport than their counterparts who train solo.
So what does being cooperative in today’s society mean? How about some good ol’ fashioned cooperation – instead of, or in conjunction with, competition – to REALLY benefit our personal and professional pursuits?