Sunday, 4 December 2011

Healthy Competition !

 Is there anything called “Healthy Competition”? If competition was healthy why do we have warring nations, corporate politics, and unethical behavior? Competition has been studied to be having negative effect on people depending on the personality type, type of feedback provided etc. A highly competitive environment has also been studied to be stressful, and leading to conflicting, non-cooperative behavior among team members. Then why do we foster competition within organizations? What is the single largest benefit of fostering competition? Is it to improve quality? But it has been studied that competition distracts people from the actual task, and instead concentrate on the aspect of winning at all cost! In such a case, how can competition improve quality?

 In the early days of my career, I too had got carried away with competition. With all the relative assessment and rigmarole, I got into this never ending cycle of comparison and competition. Over a period of time, I realized that I was spending more time and effort understanding what the one sitting next to me is up to, rather than understanding what customers want. It did not stop with just that ! Comparison and competition increased my worry, jealousy, hatred, mistrust, ...and I could go on with the never ending list of vices. It slowly devoured me and when I was on the verge of giving up my career, I took stock of the situation. That is when the wastefulness of competition stared at me. From then on, I have focused my energy on understanding my own strengths and value that I can bring to the team, and the rest have followed suit. Not that it launched my trail blazing career, but I am happy and at peace with myself. Is that not what everyone yearns for? What is success in life after all? Would I have had a better career by competing?

 Most distressing is that competition and comparison start early on in a child's life. Children are judged and compared by laurels, medals etc. People fail to recognize that each child has different strengths and we should encourage children to understand their strengths and play it. When I look back at people whom I have known since childhood, laurels, medals, scores do not really matter in the long run. It does give the initial advantage. But what holds on till the end, is the character and strengths one has. Should we then encourage relative assessments in school?

 Not for a moment am I advocating mediocrity. People believe lack of competition leads to mediocrity. I will lean on spirituality to summarize. Our Indian scriptures say, do not covet others' property, what is one's is one's own. Coveting others' property only adds on to misery and detriment of our own cause. Think what good you can do unto others (in modern management terms, what value do you bring to the world at large) , and rest is taken care.

 Even for those incorrigible competitive ones, what I would ask is, which is better? Going after a larger cause of improving humanity or going after the one sitting next to you? I know there are questions in your minds on , but who gets the hike? who gets admitted into the best university? More on that later.

But for now everyone's thoughts, comments, questions, bouquet and brickbats are welcome :)

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