By Angela Copeland
We all have bad days. Whether you woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or someone cut you off on the way to work, it can make getting through the day difficult. What can make it even more difficult is when we look at each moment as a competition to the top.
Why do we assume that in order to do well at our job (or to win), someone else must lose? It’s a sad state of affairs when we look at those around us as competition. It’s sad to think of life as a zero-sum game.
Think of it this way, when you’re having that bad day the one thing you need is a helping hand. But, if you haven’t given a hand to anyone else in the past you’re unlikely to get the help you need. Alternatively, if you’ve spent time helping others over the years you may be surprised to see help pouring in from those around you.
I heard a similar idea last year at a podcast conference I often attend, Podcast Movement. A speaker talked about how we, as podcasters, look at one another as competition. We each want to be number one in iTunes. We don’t want to help each other for fear that we’ll lose listeners. But, what would happen if we assumed there was room for everyone? What would happen if we assumed that we could all succeed in some way?
In this scenario, it’s likely that we would help each other more. We would talk to each other more. We’d share ideas and suggestions. And, we would all be more successful — together.
I know there’s a strong temptation to be “the best.” Going to school prepares us for this idea. In elementary school our teachers may rank us by reading level. In high school we fight to become the valedictorian or the best athlete. In college we each want to earn the distinction of cum laude. There’s always a ranking. There’s a first place and then the very first loser. Nobody wants to lose.
But in real life, and in the professional world, things rarely work this way. We get ahead because of the people on our team. We get ahead when we lean on those whose strengths are different than ours – and when we share our talents with others.
In life we rarely get ahead on our own with zero support. We get ahead when others help us. And others want to help us when we’ve helped them. Even if we could get ahead on our own – what would the prize be at the end of the journey? Who would we share our winnings with? All alone seems like a pretty lonely place to be.
So, take the time to remember – there’s room for everyone. We each have a place at the table, and the best way to get there is together.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.