“Our minds have been built by selfish genes, but they have been built to be social, trustworthy and cooperative. Human beings have social instincts. They come into the world equipped with predispositions to learn how to cooperate, to discriminate the trustworthy from the treacherous, to commit themselves to be trustworthy, to earn good reputations, to exchange goods and information, and to divide labour.”Matt Ridley , The Origins of Virtue
Last week, I was on a staycation at an adventure centre in the Irish woodland. The holiday was very much orientated around our children. On one of the days, we participated in a family laser tag game where our family competed alongside teammates against an opposing team of families. What I witnessed there inspired this article.
As the game drew to a close, the game was tight, it was my family left against another family. The opposing team started to turn on each other. Once they did, they became oblivious to the real threat, us, the opposition. They didn’t seem to care. All that mattered to them was that they beat each other. They were sitting ducks. Game Over.
You know where this is going.
Countries have been divided, wars have been fought and industries have sunk because of such inward rivalry. I often wondered would the newspaper industry have survived the Internet – at least fared a little better – if they had banded together rather than atomizing their content and opening it to Google and Facebook? What if they had created an alliance?
I wondered too would the music industry have survived years of lost profits if they had worked together rather than atomizing their content and letting Apple sell by the song? What if they had created their own version of Spotify?
You will have experienced this in your life. Think of those moments where you may have had some success, no matter how moderate. It may have been the junior spelling champion. Your relatives praised you, as did your teachers. Then, perhaps a younger sibling or a best friend showed some promise and began to compete as well as you. Were you happy for them? Or did you feel like they were invading your territory?
Think of times in large organisations where you are the “go-to” person for a certain skill, a certain area of expertise. Then, in strolls some new hire, they know a lot about your area of expertise and people gradually stop knocking on your door for coveted knowledge. Were you happy about this? Or did you feel that was your thing, your area of expertise to protect?
In my work as a consultant in reinvention and organizational change, I see this trend all the time. We are often so embroiled in inner conflict, with internal one-upmanship, with competing with the person down the hall that we have no energy left to deal with real threats or to identify magnificent opportunities.
Why the Gazelle and the Lion in the cover image?
I found this video on YouTube and created a gif below.
You will know what it means straight away.
THANKS FOR READING
If this content resonates then so too will my book, Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention for Individuals, Organisations and Life, out now on audiobook, kindle and hardback.
You may also enjoy my workshops on change delivered in a fun and engaging manner, endorsement below.
“This course is a masterclass in deep learning, which immerses participants in the art of unlocking creativity and innovation. And their applications in today’s world. I cannot recommend this course enough for teams that need some propulsion and intellectual nourishment at home or work.” – Aiden Connolly, Head of Innovation & Special Projects, Toyota/Lexus