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Competition: Is it Good or Bad?

Don't Try to Be Better Than Others. Try to Be better Than Yourself.

Carlos Gershenson, Researcher


Definition of Competition

The act or process of trying to get or win something others are also trying to get or win." Merriam Webster Dictionary


Competition is an interesting phenomenon. It can make us better, faster or produce more. These days in business many think it is a necessary advantage. Managers believe that competition is a must in motivating people to produce the big win. And yet, arduous, ruthless competition can produce anxiety and even failure for many individuals involved in these businesses.


Whether we are in the nonprofit or for-profit field we cannot escape the competitive leanings of work. If we just sell more products or attract a bigger number at a nonprofit event, we might just get more money from a funder or an award from our company. But is it worth it in the long run?


College admissions, sports, the workplace and so many others have gotten egg on their face through competition. Just think of Lance Armstrong, the competitive cyclist who won seven consecutive Tours de France. He was disqualified and his medals returned after THE doping scandal of the last few decades. Armstrong was found guilty of the very thing he denied for years.


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says "competition in the marketplace is good for consumers and good for business." Antitrust laws encourage companies to compete so that both consumers and businesses benefit.


Yet, as we know, when we look at technology, it seems as though competing ventures have been eaten up by the mega corporations! Mergers have taken over the internet and other areas that used to see healthy competition. The FTC and organizations like the American Antitrust Institute are suppose to level the playing field in the marketplace. But is this really happening fast enough and is it protecting the smaller innovative companies?


My sense is that competition has gotten out of control, and it's done nothing to improve the morale of the worker. We do not want to build a labor culture of scarcity and fear.

Winning at all costs doesn't necessarily encourage putting our best foot forward. And, by diminishing others, does anyone think this practice supports a positive environment for employees.


The answer is emerging, competition in these forms might not be beneficial. But competition against ourselves, and being the best we can be, encourages our better self to surface. For a real challenge, try celebrating one another's accomplishments.


In my book called RESPECT, I have included chapters that uncover ways to promote healthy competition. These topics range form cultivating trust, building empowerment, developing and implement values, and much more. Check it out on Amazon.

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