Where Competition is Useful

I’d brought this up in my Leadership is Overrated – Part II and thought I would explain further.

If perspective is the most valuable commodity on the planet, competition helps greatly in keeping this commodity.

In essence, let’s take a simple situation.
John works for a small 100 person company. He is one of few in his peer group and is doing very very well. He is much loved by all his superiors, colleagues etc and is essentially on a ‘high’.
A few years down the line, John is pitted against his peer group thanks to MBA school admissions and he realizes, in horror, that his growth and training have been woefully inadequate. And that he wasn’t as ‘cool’ as he thought he was.
In short, he had been ‘drinking his own kool aid’ and it was competition that woke him up.
Herein lies the single greatest value add of competition – keeping perspective. It helps keep our achievements in perspective and keep us grounded. And for those of us who are competitive, it can help us spur action as well..
But, aside from that, competition (in my humble point of view) does more to breed insecurity and unhappiness than almost any other force on the plan. Competition for money, attractiveness and the like helps very few and leaves the rest unhappy. So, let’s brush aside the ‘competition is good for us’ myth and move on ahead.
Do we think Microsoft sleeps better at night knowing Google and Apple are waiting to take over their market share wherever possible? Or Coke because of Pepsi?
Let’s stop singing praises of competition and just use it for where it serves it’s purpose.