Are you Afraid of Competition?

Photo cred: Stuart Barr
Photo cred: Stuart Barr

You may not know it, but I am a very competitive person…always have been. Between my parents always pushing me to be better, and playing every sport I could, the competitive spirit became instilled in me.

Competition is a good thing as long as you keep it within reason and you keep it respectful.

Many place a lot of focus on collaboration. Consistently help others and it will pay off in the long run.

This positive mentality is a great one but are we afraid to challenge each other? Afraid to challenge ourselves?

When someone launches a new product, do you just say “wow what a great job!” or do you think about how it could be done better? While the former will make the person feel better, the latter will contribute to the growth of the the idea.

Of course, like everything else, you have to find that middle ground. You don’t want to be overly competitive and you don’t want to put too much focus on collaboration.

You can collaborate, communicate and be respectful while being competitive.

I think we all have the competitive aspect in us. Some just refuse to admit it. When you see someone accomplish goals that are similar to goals you’ve set for yourself, you probably get a little jealous. You probably want to enjoy the same accomplishments. You probably feel competitive.

Embrace your competitive side. Competition provides motivation. It pushes you to become better. It pushes others to become better.

…and if someone gives you a hard time for being respectfully competitive, they don’t want you to succeed.

The Balance Act

Photo cred: DirkJan Ranzijn

Here’s a thought I’ve been struggling with lately…

It’s not all about community, relationships and engagement.  To focus only on these things was naive and idealistic.  These things are vital in the long-run, but in terms of building a large userbase (a.k.a. making money).  In order to scale, these ideals sometimes have to take a backseat to impersonal, systemic approaches.

Now I don’t necessarily agree with that thought…hence me struggling with having it.  As if they were reading my mind, both Chris Brogan and Dave Fleet recently shared relevant thoughts on their blogs to get me thinking even more.  Then to top it off today, I enjoyed an extremely interesting presentation by Gabriel Weinberg (Scribnia’s Dreamit mentor). He shared his story of how he found success by doing nothing in terms of human engagement or community building, but rather by developing a deep and thorough understanding of the system.

I know different approaches work for different situations, but I’m quickly coming to the realization that these social media concepts do not scale, at least not at first. We get caught up on the “success stories” of companies that have done nothing in terms of marketing, and have grown solely from word of mouth.  While nice to think about, to plan the same for yourself is usually idealistic and unreasonable.

So much focus have been put on these tools lately, and I pretty much soaked it all in, not quite seeing the limitations…understanding, but not quite grasping the concept of breaking down silos, as Beth Harte would explain.

I’m learning that the only thing that really matters in the end is numbers…number of users, of customers, of traffic.  Regardless of how you get there, that’s the game.  These are harsh realizations but realizations nonetheless.

So I guess in the end, all you can hope for is a balance. I will never sacrifice my passion for community building and human engagement, but it’s looking like there’s a lot more to it.

I’m sure many of you already know this, so help me through this one…what are your thoughts?