Sunday, December 18, 2011

What is competition?

You know, good teamwork and competition are like the opposing poles of the same magnet.  How do you instil competition within the team and ensure good teamwork?  Competition means outdoing your opponent, but how do you manage that when your opponent is also your team mate?

Even if it's not so, no one will disagree that good sportsmanship will ensure competition remains constructive and positive.  That's just so ideal isn't it?

But then again, maybe it isn't that much of a myth.  Maybe that can be created?  After all we were once kids.  Look at how kids compete and you will know what I mean.

Nothing inspired this post as much as watching the grand finale of the 'Junior Masterchef' of Australia.  I'm telling you those little people are simply amazing and the things they whipped up?  They whip my ass anytime!  But above and beyond the dishes, just observing how they work and respond to pressure really taught me a lot about organisation management.  Also if you've watched the adult version, you'd realize there's a lot of difference when it comes to team challenges.  Somehow, somewhere along the way we kinda forget we were all once kids.  When kids are put into team challenges, they are highly focused on doing the best they can.  As much as they are highly supportive of one another - when interviewed singularly on camera, you could sense their positivity even though they may be disappointed with the outcome.  And they're always thinking what is it that I have done and haven't done and how can I improve in the next challenge so that I don't get eliminated.

Whilst the adult Masterchef is so different.  Maybe it's the editor's fault.  He's the chef of drama, and could be snipping intentional scenes that are spicy for ratings.  But whatever it is, you could see people bickering.  And it's always about how you are not doing your job.  You are not improving and you are a bad order-taker, bad leader, bad whatever.  What happened guys?  Whatever happened while we're growing up?

Competition amongst kids is always (almost) a clean one.  The equation is simple.  You put your best effort in, you listen to your coach, you tap into your creative energy and then you spur daringly into the battle, you give your all and may the best man wins.  But for adults - c'mon, especially to those of us who are in work organisations, this is all too familiar.  Competition is dirty.  Dirty as a dish rag.  It's political - what you say on and off the record, who you say it to, when you say it.  It's at times a personal attack - at some point, people stop focusing on doing the best they can but they're more interested in pointing out what others are not doing.  It's critical - to any lengths if the battle must be won, it must be won, at all cost.

Today, I look at these kids with greatest admiration.  I've not met a lot of people in my life, but I've certainly met some whose maturity does not even come close to what these amazing kids have.

It also taught me to look at an entirely different perspective of leadership.  Leadership is at times an iron fist, at times a pointer, at times a beacon, at times a reminder - depending on the need of the situation.  Having taught kids myself, they are sometimes so much better in deciphering intention than an adult.  Well, I've to thank this TV program for teaching me management skills :) And who says watching TV is no good?

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