Collaboration over Competition

When the Gangplank Video Studio was getting ready to open, we held a special open house just for industry folks. The goal was to explain our goals for the studio and how we think we could partner with their programs. But before we could get to those points, an owner of a professional video studio expressed his fear over our studio taking away from his business. Our “free” resources would undercut the need for creatives to purchase his services or rent his equipment. It was unfair competition in his mind.

Immediately I wanted to lash out. How could our one mid-level camera and wrinkled green screen be perceived as competition? Why couldn’t he see our training program as an opportunity to educate new talent, creating future employees and patrons for his business?

Then, a few weeks later, I found myself on the other side. When provided with a good idea by a volunteer, I shot down the suggestion with weak explanations because I felt anger at not doing a good enough job to recognize the solution myself. It was petty, small and came from a primal part of my brain instead of the reasonable one.

Study Group at UBC Library

Study Group at UBC Library (Photo credit: UBC Library)

Far too often, we leap to fear and frustration as opposed to finding the opportunity in a situation. Competition is embedded in our DNA and pervasive in society. We competed for food and resources. Now we compete for the best grades as a means of survival. It’s only natural when we finally do enter the working world, we act the same.

Did you ever participate in a study group or partner up with the smart kid in class for tutoring? In school, we all knew the best way to make it through to graduation was to help each other. So while competition kept us going, collaboration got us to the finish line.

I’ve had to pull myself back in during conversations to recognize when I’m letting competition overwhelm ¬†and blind me to the opportunities. It’s really hard – I mean I’m reworking the pathways in my primal brain here. Approaching EVERY conversation like an opportunity has certainly helped and also made meetings a lot more fun.

No one says you’ll have to give up striving to be the best – but letting a few people help you get there and learn something too raises the tide for all ships.



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