Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Competition: Friend or Foe?

What does competition mean to you?  Does it have to be a "bad" thing?  Does the end result justify the means when it comes to more than one person achieving at a certain level, task, or career path?  Much like love, and war, is all really fair in chasing down a goal?  Is it ok to throw ethics out the window in order to be on top?

I ask these things, because this notion of competing has been on my mind lately.  I'm learning that it clearly means something different to everyone, and I'm left wondering if many people really believe it's ok to completely forego ethical practices all in the name of "success," and since we're on the topic, where exactly does that ethical line lie? 

Earlier I touched on the topic of competition viewed as something to guard against, but it's always been my opinion that this is silly, and something that is impossible to avoid.  I mean really, on a planet with how many - like 7 billion people (?) isn't it unrealistic to think you can protect yourself from this idea of competition?  Not to mention exhausting!  Now, I'm not saying you need to go around giving away your secret recipe, but what's wrong with telling someone your bottling company?  For me, what it has always boiled down to is, what exactly does it matter?  I definitely don't suggest doing all the footwork for other people, and laying yourself out there like a fine Persian rug to get fully walked all over, but I find nothing wrong with sharing information. 

I admit, I was more than just a bit taken aback when shortly after launching a new item in my Etsy shop I received an email from a person claiming to work with troubled teens, and wanting to know how I made my Out of the Loop scarves so the kids could learn it as a positive project experience.  Now, no matter what you've heard about my naivety, I wasn't born yesterday, and I was totally skeptical of the validity of the whole story I'd been fed.  After thinking about it, however, I literally asked myself "What's it to ya?" what was it to me if this was all some big lie just to get the inside scoop on how to make a scarf?  Truthfully, I was a little irked at first, because before jumping in with this new product, I'd done my research, I'd looked for it under every possible name, and found no one else making, and selling them, so I was very excited to be the first person to bring this item to the market (as far as I was aware).  It was with trepidation that I spilled my secret to this stranger, but the reality of the entire situation was that ANYONE could walk into their local crafts store, and purchase the same kit I had bought and used to create my scarves.  This was not some epic secret I had to protect, so really what is the harm in telling the person what I'd used, and where I bought it? 

It's my opinion that the difference between information-sharing attitudes, and information-hoarding attitudes is confidence.  The confidence in your own skills to be the best, the confidence in your own imagination to keep your creations fresh, and the confidence in your own personal style that you are able to create things that people will swoon for no matter how many others are out there.  I also believe "competition" keeps you reaching into your bag of tricks to keep things on the cutting edge, keep pushing yourself, and your boundaries, and I think to a degree without it things get stale.  So really it seems that the loss isn't incurred by the sharing, but that we lose more by NOT sharing with each other along the journey. 

Share something today, and watch what you get in return.  I promise it will be worth it.