When Competition is a Positive Force

Win-Win Web is a new listing in our Ho‘ohana Online Community, and I encourage you to visit EM Sky there, particularly when you may be feeling you need a dose of positivity in your outlook on life.

I was thrilled to see that EM and I have been tag-teaming in the past two days on the subject of Vision: when I asked for some good examples, she dished up one from Ted’s Montana Grill, sharing how the people at Ted’s live their vision passionately. In addition, she segued into an important discussion about competition:

At Ted’s, all the food is made from scratch. Even the croutons. But the Ted’s vision goes well beyond the edibles: "From our décor to our atmosphere to our menu to our service, we strive to bring you an authentic turn-of-the-century Montana moment."

This isn’t the official Ted’s vision statement. It’s just copy from the nutritional page of their website. One aspect of a truly passionate vision is that the company lives it, so the vision shows up everywhere.

I can’t stress enough that a passionate vision is never about the competition. Ted’s isn’t about being "the best steakhouse in the region" or about providing "the best service within the steakhouse segment of the restaurant industry." Ted’s cares about the quality of their food and service, but they care about these things within the context of their higher vision, not as goals in and of themselves.

Trying to beat out the competition at its own game is neither inspirational nor particularly rewarding. Did you really go into business just to beat out somebody else at what they’re already doing? Or did you go into business to do something different, something unique, something exceptional?”
Stop competing – the passionate vision statement

EM hits a bulls eye with this. The competitive spirit is a good thing when it’s directed inward versus outward; it can be a much healthier motivational factor.

Coincidentally, I received an email yesterday from a mortgage brokerage, saying that this concept I’d written in Managing with Aloha about competition and nobility had been folded into a new draft of their mission: It’s still a work in progress for them, and I can’t wait to see the statement they come up with. The chapter this passage shows up in is on Ha‘aha‘a, the Hawaiian value of humility, for within the kaona (deeper meaning) of this value, humility is the best companion to competition.

To keep our attitude in check at times of great success, Ha‘aha‘a was a word that came up frequently in our conversations about competition and measurement. In the final analysis, who were we competing against? To truly use all the talents of the ‘Ohana we competed against ourselves, and our capacity to do even more, to be even better. There is nothing noble in being superior to someone else. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self. Therefore, how did we take stock, how did we measure up? We chose to measure ourselves against our previous selves, not against our peers, our neighbors or our competition.

Taken altogether this demeanor and attitude of Ha‘aha‘a is one of quiet and effective power: It serves as an internal energy source that is self-renewing and self-perpetuating. It grounds you, and gives you a presence that is confident without any arrogance or pretense. It reminds you to know well of what you speak. It opens your capacity for ‘Ike loa, for a more complete learning.

—page 151, Managing with Aloha

In an earlier post, EM shares a story from her personal working experience about cooperation and collaboration in stark contrast to competition. Her post is called The cooperative workplace – can’t we all just get along? And I encourage you to click over to Win-Win Web and read it. She says,

“”most organizations, whether consciously or not, are encouraging competition within their own ranks. ” Don’t try to drive progress through competition. Drive it through passion.”

EM passionately shares more on this in her ho‘ohana statement, sharing why she writes Win-Win Web in the first place: (you know how I love About Pages best!)

The most important question any individual or business or community can ask of itself is this: "Am I engaging my seeking nature in a win-lose or a win-win game?" The truth is that our current way of life is simply full of win-lose games – games in which success can only be achieved at the expense of another. We compete with each other for money, for control, for status, for "the big win." But at what cost to ourselves? To our communities? To our planet?

Win-win games, on the other hand, unite our seeking and social natures in the same goal. In a win-win scenario, if I win then everyone wins. My success leads to the success of others. My connections to others lead to my own success. I can experience the joy of seeking and the joy of human connection simultaneously.

Ho‘omāka‘ika‘i: go visiting, and click into Win-Win Web, Where Success Breeds Success. I am very happy to introduce EM Sky to you.


  1. says

    Mahalo, Rosa. I am honored to become a part of the Ho’ohana community.
    It is even more of a blessing to me that the heart of this online family is in Hawaii. Your letter of introduction welcomes me home from 5,000 miles away. You don’t know what a gift that is.
    I look forward to participating in the Ho’ohana community in whatever capacity I may best serve my new sisters and brothers. I welcome you all as you have welcomed me. Let me know what I can do for you, anytime.
    Mahalo, mahalo, mahalo,