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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Don't Get Smug: Competition and Success

Hence, the brogrammer phenomena.  This is not a new thing, though - success has always bred overconfidence, a shift in focus from work to trappings and, eventually, collapse.  Look at the world banking industry (or troll through @GSElevator for a short sugar-dose of testosterone).  Look at politics; any Party over time, or a whole host of candidates. 

Smart people tell me there is all kinds of in-depth strategy in the antics of, say, a Tim Hudak.  I think that the reality is, there's a strong element of walking circles in the woods to this; the longer you keep at it with a righteous attitude, the more you're "strategy" becomes a reflection of your personal inclinations.  Planks become so much confabulation, justifying smug positions.  The kind of positions that, if you're very lucky, might work out for you, but are by no means a recipe for success.

Standard business logic tells us you have to exude confidence to win.  Practical experience tells us that overconfidence leads to failures.

My solution is easy - your only competitor should be yourself.  If you constantly push yourself to do better, to reach further, to strain for the next level, it doesn't matter whether the other players are competitive or not - you will never cease to excel. 

Reach higher - and deliver.

UPDATED: I never do this intentionally, but it happens none-the-less.  Here is an article I read after this post which also builds on the risk of personality impeding successTonya Surman, the visionary behind the Centre for Social Innovation, said essentially the same thing I believe during a recent chat: never make it about yourself - everything you do should be about the vision.

In the words of Lao tzu:

“When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Next best is a leader who is loved.
Next, one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.

If you don't trust people,
you make them untrustworthy.

The Master doesn't talk, he acts.
When his work is done,
the people say, "Amazing:
we did it, all by ourselves!”

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