I used to think that my company, Mirabilis Media, (the one I created when I was 30 year old and sold it 10 years after, for quite some money), was one of my biggest achievements. Honestly, I don’t think that way anymore. It was an achievement, but I start to doubt that it was my biggest one.
By any mainstream standards, being successful with your own company is a great achievement. Many people are working their butts day in and day out to make it happen.
And once you’re getting a little bit of grip, once your products are becoming adherent to the market and your name starts to be recognized, well, something interesting kicks in and kinda ruins the whole thing. It’s called competition.
Am I the first one in the market? Am I the second? Everybody and their mother knows that only the first 3 players are counting in any field. And only number one and number two can get a major investment. If you have 25% of the market you can do that and if you have 45% you can do the other thing. If you are the third in a market with two big and powerful leaders you can play your cards in a certain way. Everything is about coming up first.
Competition is deeply wired in our structures. Especially males are subject to its influence. Roll back to the time when we’re hanging around in small groups, hunting on the fields of Africa and you’ll start to understand why. The alpha male used to have all the privileges. If you were number one, you got the most fertile ladies, the best food and shelter and pretty much the entire respect of the group. Until somebody else challenged you, that is.
I guess that spreading away your genes as far away as you could, imposing your own DNA over your peers and just surviving in a very difficult environment was the biggest achievement you could have during those times. I’m inclined to agree with that.
But times have changed. Surviving, as important as it is still is, is not the biggest issue anymore. Our social structures, our environment, our capacity of creating life supporting materials have evolved. It’s way easier to survive and to spread your genes today, than it was 50.000 years ago. If that’s all that you want, I mean. As a matter of fact, I think that spreading your genes became the easiest thing we can do nowadays.
Then why we’re still so pushed by these ancient instincts? Why we’re striving so much to pick up on some numbers and always try to come up in the first place? Why we still have this pathological fascination with numbers and fight?
I admit I haven’t find an answer to that question yet. I tried, believe me, for years, but I couldn’t find it. And when I was just about to give up, a few years ago, something happened. Basically, I found a new question. And that new question is: What would happen if we could replace “competition” with “connection”?
And the answer to that questions was: “Wow!”.
Competition versus Connection
If you’re in a competition state, everybody is your enemy. If you’re in a connection state, everybody is your partner.
If you’re competing, you’re spending resources, like in losing them. If you’re in connection, you’re sharing resources, like in growing them.
If you’re competing, there is only number one that makes you happy, like a pyramid that can only be traversed from the top to the bottom. If you’re connecting, you’re happy everywhere, you’re in a graph, a web that can be traversed any way you like.
If you’re competing, your body is in a fight or flight situation, you can either win or lose. If you’re connecting, you don’t have anything to lose or to win, there is only healthy expectation.
If you compete, your self-esteem becomes a result of the competition: if you win, self-esteem goes up, if you lose, self-esteem goes down. If you connect, your self-esteem is driving the connection process: the more you have, the more people you attract into your connection area.
If you compete, you win a prize. And, in order to win another prize, you have to compete again. And again, and again. If you connect, there’s no prize to be won: your created value is spread constantly in the graph and returned to you constantly from the same graph.
As I started to draw all these simple comparisons, I realized that I kinda shifted to connection right after I sold my company. A few of my formers competitors in the market were puzzled by the fact that I didn’t invest more, that I didn’t create even a bigger empire than the one I sold. Some of them still are puzzled and maybe think that I have something under the table, ready to explode when the time will come. Well, I don’t. Because I don’t compete anymore. I connect.
So, to make a long story short, I still don’t know what pushes us to competition. And I may never find out what it is. But I do know something better than that.
And that’s the value of a true connection.