Competition Isn’t Just Necessary, It’s Healthy

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Healthy Competition

A lot of people don’t like competition – I love it. Competition is about seeing what’s working, and doing it better, or faster, or more efficiently. Competition is what causes us to keep progressing as humans. Think what might have happened if people became complacent back in the day.

A Case for Competition: The Famous Race

In 1899, Deull (Commissioner of US Patent Office) announced that “everything that can be invented has been invented.” This was the same year that Henry Ford joined the Detroit Automotive Company. Ford later brought the very first car to market – the Model T. There have been countless inventions that have come from that single effort. Hundreds of new car brands have emerged to claim their part in the ever-growing car market. We’re actually witnessing a modern version of this same story with the race to bring the first automated car to market. Tesla, Ford, and Google are some of the front runners in this amazing race.

All of this “drive” can be attributed to the healthy competition that exists between people and their endeavors. Competition can cause us to perform on another level than we might have previously thought possible. When we have something to compare ourselves to, it becomes much easier to figure out how we can improve and ultimately become better.

I was recently reading (listing to the Audiobook) “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. The book covers a number of historical happenings, but one of my favorites is a story about Charles Schwab. He is unquestionably one of the greatest businessmen of our time. He’s created an empire by using competition to not only fuel his own production but challenge those among him.

In this book, Carnegie illustrates how Schwab used competition to bring his workers up to full capacity with nothing more than a recorded observation. Here’s how it went:

“Charles Schwab had a mills manager whose people weren’t producing their quota of work…

This conversation took place at the end of the day just before the night shift came on. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked:

“How many heats did your shift make today?”

“Six.”

Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor, and walked away. When the night shift came in, they saw the six and asked what it meant. “The big boss was in here today”, the day people said. “He asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor.”

The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out six and replaced it with a big seven.

When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big seven chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in with enthusiasm, and when they quit that night, they left behind them an enormous, swaggering 10. Things were stepping up.

Shortly this mill, which had been lagging way behind in production, was turning out more work than any other mill in the plant.”

— Carnegie

This strategic approach motivated everyone to perform at higher levels, without any true incentive. They were each inspired by the nature of the healthy competition that Schwab thoughtfully created.

The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting above average effort. — Colin… Click To Tweet

This is one of the main reasons I love working in crowded coffee shops. It makes it a lot easier to get things done, when I know I’m not the only one hustling. Even if those coffee shop people aren’t my direct competition, we’re all working to beat someone out there. Why not work together?

Learn more about how to beat your competition and live successfully everyday.