In the past month I have been musing on the secrets to success in 2014, So in this month of February I will be sharing on the things I’ve come across on my quest.

One of the things that is key to success lies in the power of connection. Harnessing your strengths with others and creating synergies. Replacing the ‘I win, you lose’ mentality with an understanding of the benefits of collaboration, is the key to solving both our personal and social problems. This mistaken belief, that winning equals winning over someone else, is the greatest cancer of our time, accounting for every single one of the crises we face. Other than on the sports field, the competitive mindset is probably the greatest impediment to progress.

Latest research done in the west shows that students, employees, managers, business owners, couples, and neighbors are happier, healthier, and far more productive when they work together in collaborative ways. Schools that use cooperative learning, where A students work side by side with C students, produce better results than do those schools that group children by ability and have them compete for grades or constantly strive to improve their own personal best. Collaborative solutions at work consistently outperform those in which companies rate individual performances against each other.

I read somewhere that as a success coach hired by Microsoft, the best-selling author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield, observed that Microsoft’s practice of creating small internal competitive ‘silos’, vying against each other for performance and rewarded, or punished for their individual success or failure, created such a climate of fear that it actually hampered innovation and lost the company market share.

This company policy stood in stark contrast to the corporate climate at Google, one of its major competitors. Individuals were encouraged to work as a team, were offered the time and space for collective brainstorming, and were rewarded for the entire group’s effort. By removing a culture of naked-claw competition, Google not only created happier employees but ultimately began to produce better results.

The change of emphasis in our relationships and our society from ‘me’ to ‘we’ will not erode individual rights, ability, achievement, freedom of expression, or ownership in any way. Nor will it require that we relinquish our hard-earned cash or possessions, repudiate our economic system, or overturn our democratic way of life. The only practice we will give up is the need to strive for individual achievement at another person’s expense. That mindset in itself is flagrantly anti-individual and undemocratic: somebody’s individual rights always get trampled in ‘I win, you lose’ scenarios.

If we are to prosper, individually and collectively, each of us must wipe clean our mental hard drives of the sense of scarcity, lack, competition, and extreme individualism with which we are now programmed. To do this we have to challenge the very assumptions and thought processes on which those concepts and assumptions are based.

A good starting place is to replace the model inspired by economist Adam Smith of ‘we do best for society by looking out for number one’ with the idea that our own best response in any situation is to choose what is best not simply for ourselves but also for the rest of the group.

Adopting this new paradigm in your dealings with others will encourage you to overcome your internal ‘I win, you lose’ programming and become a change agent at home and at work.

In Zimbabwe we have a Shona proverb that says, ‘Chara chimwe hachitswanyi inda’ meaning ‘one finger cannot kill lice’, You need to use a couple of fingers to kill the lice. For us to achieve great things in 2014 we need to work together.



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