I live an interesting dual existence:
One Part: Creative
One Part: Competitive
~ This can be a dangerous combination!
As I grow older I find the competitive side giving up ground to the compromise of mutual acceptance. I look back on some of my competitive behavior with shame....because my motivation was flawed. Yes friends, your humble narrator used to be a royal pain in the ass! As a young upstart, I was impatient and only out for myself. My self-motivation was transparent, I only cared about winning, and I didn't care who I flattened in the process. This blatant determination works when you are a High School Wrestler. Such vigorous determination from a 35 year old reveals insecurity.
I have learned to be more collaborative in my business process. This makes for a much happier professional existence. In fact, most of the things that our inherent competitive spirit evokes are unimportant in the big picture. If you are up 5 runs and you yell at the 3rd baseman for missing a throw....your energy might be misplaced. Likewise, if you thump your overworked, underpaid, support staff every time they make an oversight.....you are probably coming off like an asshole!
With all of this said, there is a continued need to be assertive. The question: how can we be assertive without being insensitive?
Here's a few tips I have learned at my own expense:
Keep the GOAL in Mind
Details, details, details.....
I know so many people who are brilliant at what they do because of their attention to detail. This trait also makes them terrible communicators. If when asked a question you immerse your audience in the detail they will fall asleep.
You have to think bigger picture and simplfy your narration in a language your audience can understand.
We label each other...
Like it or not, when Jane walks into your office you have a preconceived notion of what she will bring to your attention. You cannot let this prejudice steer the conversation before it happens.
Allow the subject matter to drive the task at hand, find the path to the result, and assign Jane an empowering role. It is often hard to release the reigns but people cannot grow if you do not allow them to help!
Without a Loser
You can win without beating someone else into oblivion. I have been a big fan of individual sports (skateboarding, wrestling, boxing) because of the overt personal accountability involved. If you lose, you lose, and everyone knows. This doesn't work in business.
No man (woman) is an island, you cannot do it alone, and there doesn't have to be a loser in every competition.
My life got a lot better when I learned to give more than I was taking. To talk less and listen more. To put my ego aside and help others win.
I teach people these traits and fail at practicing them myself. Such is life!
The key is to know where to put your energy. You can have a determined focus on creating a unique solution. You can eliminate competition and present trophies to everyone.
If you cross the finish line, and no one notices, do you really win?
Don't Forget to Remember!