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Competition is a good word

Carlotta Daniels-Randolph | 11/3/2013, 1:16 p.m.

Several years ago well-known veteran television broadcaster, Bryant Gumbel was asked who he was rooting for in the Major Baseball League’s World Series, and his response was, “I am rooting for good baseball”. As a sports enthusiast I thought at the time this was a cop out. As time went on I began to appreciate what that statement meant. If both teams are performing up to capacity, then the fans should witness a truly spectacular and rewarding series. Yes there has to be a winner and therefore a loser; however, the fans of the sport who appreciate the great effort and display of talent win, the league wins monetarily and the reputation of the sport is elevated --so in short everybody wins in the end.

In our work, business or professional life we generally seek to do our best because our best tends to bring monetary and intrinsic rewards. One of the elements that encourages us to do or be our best is competition. Competition is the thing that drives both the amateur and the elite professional athlete alike to strive to be the best, but it is also true of regular people in different aspects of their lives and many organizations. Smart businesses know how to use healthy competition in the workplace to increase collaboration among work groups and develop trust among team members to boost productivity.

When we as consumers are looking for a service or product –the bottom line is we want the best our dollars can buy. And when we are looking for employment most of us want to be a part of a company that has a good reputation. Fair competition among organizations in any industry is clearly both necessary and valuable. Quite simply it seems healthy competition can spur innovation, improves quality, controls price and enhances service. This is where most people see the benefits of competition and want to ensure that this continues. Also more competition means more employment opportunities.

How has competition come to be considered by some an unhealthy thing? Well, picture the overzealous coach berating some 8 year–old for not performing at the level he deemed necessary. Most parents see these activities as a way for children to gain exercise, learn to work as a part of team, be well-rounded and yes --to be competitive. However, it seems that the “winners and losers” paradigm make some parents and teachers feel that too many children become discouraged and not only in the specific area of competition, but other areas of their lives as well. Many people, young and older bounce back and enhance their performance, while others may shy away from trying for fear of failure, because, let’s face it, society does not treat “losers” well. How often have we heard this refrain in public discourse during the last several years? “Why is there an award for fifth place in school competitions?”

When we as a society can appreciate the value of everyone and encourage all to do their best knowing that when everyone is performing at their best we can all in all ultimately win.

Carlotta Daniels-Randolph, M.Ed. is a workforce development professional with 20 years’ experience in the public and private sector and an administrator and adjunct instructor at Delaware County Community College.