Through my career in teaching, government and consulting, I’ve advised people on strategy and competition. One of my key takeaway from life experience and observing the dynamics in the market is that competitiveness is not actually the best way to compete. Most of the best achievers I see out there takes on market leadership moves – typically activities that create rather than divert business.
For example, in school, I shared my notes with classmates, coached them, gave them my responses to assignments. Friends of mine through school have benefited from my guidance and help. In exchange, I did better than I could have done because I’ve sought to teach others what I learnt, which reinforced my learning better than any other approaches. Whether I could do better than others, was irrelevant in the tactics I’ve adopted because I never wanted to bother about ‘competition’.
Subsequently at work, I noticed there were people who were competitive at work, keeping knowledge to themselves and working quietly to outshine others, or networking with bosses. And there were those who mentored and coached younger colleagues, choosing to spend more time helping others get better at work and sharing the mission of the work.
There will always be people who are competitive, who is out there to climb ladders that are built for them. There will scale heights, but only limited by what the system and the existing infrastructure can afford them. True breakthroughs are going to come from those who did not set out to go high or far by the well-recognized parameters.