Certainly, we have found ourselves dabbling in all three of these domains. But, when you look at your life and business right here and now, where do you find yourself playing the most?
The first level, competition, is the most basic level of work interaction. At its very core, it puts people on the offensive, or worse yet, a defensive posture. People are fearful to share ideas. They don't want to be exposed to criticism or have someone rip off their good idea. They are restricted by rigid boundaries.
Generally, there seems to be one "right" way of doing things and many "wrong" ways. Win-lose is a common outcome. And, in all truth, this form of interaction is hardly collaborative. But, despite itself, it does work. You just don't see the most successful entrepreneurs and companies in a constant state of competition. They have generally surpassed this level and are experiencing more fulfilling and successful forms of collaboration.
Here at the next level of work interaction, professionals become capable of cooperative transactions. It is a more effective form of interaction where we assign tasks among a group of individuals. He does this. She does that. There is some give-and-take. But, these transactions are not based on a true partnership.
Certainly, the boundaries of cooperation are more flexible and selectively looser. But, fundamentally people are still protecting themselves. Win-win is possible and it is good, as long as we win the same.
At the highest level of work interactions, a partnership is formed. There is a free flow of ideas, in which boundaries are fluid. This kind of collaboration is possible only when we are very secure and we are not measuring who won more.
It lends itself to incredible success and happiness because we can all get what we want. Perhaps another appears to get "more" of what they want, but there is no giant scorecard in the sky. And, certainly these collaborative partners are not keeping one in their heads because the very process of measurement suffocates openness and reinforces the negativity of competition. We are all winners if we can achieve a true collaborative interaction. Creativity on all sides is enhanced.
The question now is, if you are striving for the highest level of collaborative interaction, how do you find partners and collaborators? The same way you'd do anything and everything you are passionate about--by believing in yourself and what you are doing.
When you're excited about a project, others will be drawn to you. You receive offers of help. Perhaps, more than you can even accept. When you are aligned with your purpose, you can bring others in, because they see your excitement and feed off of it. Your enthusiasm will nourish others and encourage them to join you in your effort.
- Do I typically create competitive, cooperative or collaborative interactions?
- Am I the kind of person people want to help?
- What can I do to create ideal collaborative interactions?
- With whom would I like to create these kinds of interactions?
Then, take your success to the next level with this powerful Statement of Collaboration: I will be a person others want to work with. I will work with others without hidden or selfish intent to accomplish our mutual goals in the service of what each of us stands for.