When there are lots of competitors, only a few of whom will win, the competitive environment often becomes fierce and even unfriendly. Neither was the case at my son Benjamin’s district thespian competition last week. While my greatest joy was seeing him on stage, drawing thunderous laughter and applause for his portrayal of a high schooler from the wrong side of the tracks, what was also joyful was experiencing the audience. Hundreds of 14 through 18-year-old actors lovingly and wholeheartedly watched, clapped, cried, and even sighed as they watched other performers who could take away one of the three coveted spots that would be earned that day for the state competition.
Seeing this talented, yet, often immature group of people be so gracious inspired me to want more cheering of this type at the adult level. I’ve always been convinced that our kids are our best business professors, when we simply pay attention to what they’re here to teach us. If they can be this supportive and kind, there’s no reason for adults to bad-mouth their competitors.
Based upon their example, here are four ways and reasons for cheering on the competition:
Applauding their successes allows you to learn from the positive nuances of their business, applying those to your own company.
No one can relate to what you do better than someone else in the same line of work. Spending time together over a meal or drink is a healthy catharsis for the common stresses faced by peers.
In the spirit of competition, it’s all too easy to lose touch with our humanity. By supporting fellow leaders and colleagues as they deal with life on life’s terms, we get the honor of being part of the supportive give and take that’s one of the more meaningful parts of life.
No one likes to lose, however, it’s inevitable some of the time. Authentically congratulating competitors when they win the deal makes the sting of loss fade faster, versus taking the poison pill of resentment that makes the hurt of loss persist.
In this world of technology that can distract us and responsibilities that often consume us, being present, gracious, and supportive, just like those talented teens, is a worthwhile endeavor. And who knows, while the common negativity of competition creates predictable outcomes, offering applause and kudos may just bring about some wonderful, unexpected surprises.
This Week’s Radical Accountability Activating Action: Clap, laugh, cry, and lose graciously, while watching for the other lessons our kids are here to teach us.
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