Collaboration Over Competition: Identify Your Why
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
– African Proverb
Prior to my epiphany on December 11th, 2012 I threw this quote into my growing pile of clichés.
I recently had the opportunity to hear Lou Radja, a motivation speaker, present at the monthly PMI Portland Chapter meeting. Within the course of a short forty-five minute presentation Lou actually had me questioning my purpose in life.
His message had no prerequisites yet I left the meeting hall asking myself, why do I get out of bed every morning? Why do I spend more time at work than I do with the people I love? Why do I have this enormous urge to keep evolving into something better? Why?
In my twenty-three years of life, if I have learned one thing it is this: life is supposed to be hard.
I clearly recall the moment in my life when everything seemed to be in disarray. When all the fairy tale visions that little girls grow up with came crashing down. This is when it would have been the perfect time to focus on my why. Instead, I swam up current and took a few lessons from the School of Hard Knocks.
In the spirit of my epiphany I started a vision board, aka plastering ginormous sticky notes (no, seriously 2.5 ft. × 2 ft.) on the largest blank wall in my home. Try feeling discouraged when you are looking at your goals, the names of the people you love, and a summary of your future.
I defined my Why.
If you do not have a spare wall lying around I tracked down a website that will give you the opportunity to build a virtual board.
Defining Your Why
We all have a Why. The question is, is your Why clear enough that you can use it to motivate you when times are hard? Can it remind you of what is at stake? Will it keep your focus on the big picture?
The definition of your Why can be the reason you succeed.
Real Whys from Real People
I asked my Facebook friends to contribute their Whys. I received a ton of great ones!
Randy Morales has defined his Why:
My why is to fight for my country. Every morning I wake up and put on my uniform to serve this country because somebody has to do it and I choose me.
So has Whitney Gifford:
My why is to make my Grandma and the rest of my family proud, and to show my daughter that hard work and dedication pays off in the long run.
And Advisicon’s own Stacey Garner has defined her Why:
I get out of bed every morning to be a good example to my children so they will in turn take care of their family instead of relying on others to do so.
Your Why At Work
How does your Why effect you at work? Well for starters, it is the reason you are there.
It’s easy to forget that you work for yourself. As Lou Radja puts it, “Only volunteers work for others. If you receive a paycheck that means you work for yourself.”
So, how are you doing just a little bit more than what is expected of you?
That effort is not for your boss, it is for you.
- It is for your vacation.
- It is for your daughter's college fund.
It’s for all the reasons you thought about earlier when we talked about your Why. In fact, it often drives us to compare our progress to others’.
Competitiveness sparks when you feel that your Why is in jeopardy.
Lou described an event for us that I want to share with you: during a workshop, he witnessed some internal competition. He asked everyone in attendance to stop, take out a piece of paper and write down their email address.
Then he challenged them. “Everything before @ is a form of individuality and everything after @ is where the collective picks up.”
He concluded, “If you focus on growing the pie, your slice automatically gets bigger.”
Sending the Elevator Back Down
The take away from forty-five minutes with Lou? If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
It’s as simple as that. We are talking about something we learn in grade school but so often forget by the time we are climbing the corporate ladder.
If you’re lucky enough to have done well, then it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.
– Jack Lemmon
By sending the elevator back down, you make a commitment to share your knowledge. “So the idea is please do not make your success an individual sport. Find someone to connect with. Establish mentorships in your business. Always have 2 or 3 mentees and always have 3-4 mentors. We are meant to be rivers not reservoirs.” Lou instructed.
When you put in that 12 hour day, don’t do it to outshine the guy sitting next to you. Do it because you want to be better than you were yesterday.
Collaboration over competition.
This is my way of sending the elevator back down.