By Nancy L. Clark
Good competitors make you better; bad competitors can pollute the industry. Just ask Chevron, Shell, and others. The embarrassing reaction from BP (British Petroleum) to the disaster, amplified by its poor safety record, hurts not only BP, but also the whole industry – guilt by association runs rampant.
Some might be surprised to know that many of the top oil companies immediately offered their services to BP in order to find a solution to the raging gulf tragedy. Having consulted to one of the top and most safety conscious energy companies in the world, I can attest to their concern for the gulf and to the embarrassment caused by BP to the energy industry. Even prior to the gulf disaster, the general feeling was one of distress over BP’s safety.
The cost to the environment and to the industry is huge. BP’s action or lack of action hurts everyone – wildlife, business owners, workers, and competitors. Consequently, good, responsible, and safety conscious competitors are best.
That is true even on a smaller, more local level. I recently heard a story that truly epitomizes über competition. To recount the story, a farmer enters his crop each year at the state fair. And, each year he wins. At the conclusion of the fair, he gives away his prize-winning seeds to any and all, even his competitors. When asked why he would do such a foolish thing, his response is simple. He recognizes that his crop and his seeds are impacted by the farms around him — the better their crops, the better his crops. By helping them, he helps himself, and improves the whole market.
A healthy rivalry can be personally life changing as well. I remember my grammar school competitor, Nancy Tague. She was the smartest girl in the school. Unknowingly, she made me better. I studied harder because I wanted to beat her in math. It wasn’t vicious on my part. But I knew that I better hit the books a little harder, think a little deeper, and try a little more. Without Nancy, I most likely would have slacked off. Thank you Nancy, wherever you are. You were a worthy competitor … and because of you I am better.
So next time you feel out maneuvered by your competitor, be thankful. Take it as a gift and use it to up your game!
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