We’ve all heard the famous proverb “alone you can go fast, together you can go far.” Yet, so often, we find ourselves feeling competitive when confronted with someone doing the same work as us, or when seeking our boss’s attention for a promotion. A competitive mind-set locks you into feeling distrustful of others, secretive, and closed off.
Fear that there isn’t enough success to go around, or fear that someone else’s success means we are doing worse, forces us into a place of competition rather than opening the doors to collaboration. Business coach Cait Scudder says this competitive mind-set can hold you back from achieving the success that you desire.
If you’re fearful to share your opinion because you’re worried someone else will steal your idea, for example, you may never allow that idea to flourish. Similarly, being fearful of collaborating with someone else for fear that elevating their name will mean your name will become irrelevant, means you could miss out on an opportunity to grow your potential. “When you choose to see others as a threat and competition, you rob yourself of the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship,” says Scudder.
If you struggle with being collaborative, try these four tips to get over your competitive fears.
List the Benefits
This is a simple task that helps your brain to see the benefit of a collaborative mind-set. Make a list of all the benefits that come from staying open and collaborative (such as building a mutually beneficial relationship, sharing resources, growing your network) and all the benefits of staying closed. Ask yourself which side makes you feel more connected and empowered and which side makes you feel fearful and limited. “It’s powerful to see these answers written out,” says Scudder.
Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Doing everything yourself isn’t an effective long-term strategy. “You’re going to depend on colleagues to pull their weight and team members to handle their areas of expertise,” says Scudder.
Identify your strengths and the strengths of others. “By getting clear on what you excel in, where you need support, and the areas that another person excels in and needs support, it becomes easy to identify potential collaborations that would be of mutual benefit,” says Scudder.
Scudder argues our fear of collaboration comes from the feeling of being “in or out.” Often individuals who are trapped in a competitive mind-set don’t feel that they are part of the “in crowd.” Feeling left out breeds emotions of distrust. Separating yourself from the pack allows these emotions to intensify, forcing you to be trapped in a competitive mind-set.
By reaching out to others by email or social media platforms and attending networking events, you can begin to create a feeling of belonging and to feel more connected with others–and therefore more comfortable with the idea of collaborating.
Remember Your Mission
“One of the biggest reasons we slip back into competition is because we’re growing disconnected from our deeper values,” says Scudder. “When you reconnect with your why–the reason you started this business or joined this company in the first place–choosing to fight the smaller battles becomes easy to see for what it really is–irrelevant and distracting from your greater purpose.”
Aligning your decisions to participate, to share, and to collaborate with your core vision and values can help you to cultivate a collaborative mind-set. When faced with an individual you may view as a competitor, ask whether they share your values? Then ask what good could be achieved by joining forces and combining your strengths. Always going back to your mission ensures that the collaboration is in line with your core beliefs and values.