Competition Vs Cooperation

February 19, 2021

I’ve been racking my brain around this concept for the last 31 years of my life; or, at the very least, as long as I can remember. Our society wrestles with some fundamentally opposing world views: that of the individual, striving to be the “Greatest of All”, alone at the “Top of the Mountain” and that of the one who works with others to create and advance a better world around him. The two really are at odds with one another just be definition: “individualism” vs “collectivism”. This is the duality at the heart of Western Society and I truly believe it is at the heart of so much mental, emotional and physical unrest. We strive to be “better” than the next person, or again, at the very least not “as bad as” this person or that person. But what an exhausting and unending race. A forever game. Now I forgot who said it, so I’ll pull up the google but a wise man said “you win the race the day you stop racing” or something to that affect.

It was Bob Marley, go figure. That man had it understood.

But back to my ramblings. Since starting this paradigm shifting journey that is the podcast and my open exploration of the distance between the heart and the mind, I have wrestled with my own roots of understanding. You see, I come from a family that has such immense pride, on both sides. Now pride isn’t such a bad thing, but it really can get in the way of ones learning and growth. The most dangerous place to be in the world is to think that you know it all. News flash: you and I will never know it all. The day you think you got it all planned out, either you begin to die or you will be humbled.

So to return to the argument and the clash between the ubermincshes of Nitechizsm and the Egalitarian Romantic Idealism of Marxism AKA being the individual soley on top of the world and working towards cultivating a shared and equitable society. One must understand the importance of balance. Without balance there is chaos and trust me when I say this, no society runs on positivity. If that were true, then we could all think ourselves to prosperity. But we can’t. There are limitations. This is known in the Western World as work. We have got to do work to get to where we want and there are two very different ways of achieving this: through cooperation or competition. Both of which result in very different outcomes.

Let’s look first at competition. All throughout University, I hated doing group projects. Why? Because the work load was never balanced, or so I felt. Someone was always doing more and that just didn’t seem fair to me. You might have someone who was so controlling that they did everything, thereby rendering me useless; or, I had to do a lot because nothing was getting done. I once did a project with another guy and we had a great time. Drinking beers and shooting the shit but ultimately we got nothing done and put together something so half-assed that all our peers laughed at how clearly aloof we appeared in our work.

For my naïve self, I saw it as a wake up call: you want something done right, you better go do it yourself.

Well, that made for a very difficult next few years of my life. As you expand in your success, be it a business or any concentrated effort, there is only so much one person can handle before they have to share the load. If you are able to handle all your endeavors single-handedly, congrats, but there is a point of critical mass or a ceiling from which you can’t move passed as a single person. You need someone to help lift the ceiling higher. This is where sharing the load comes in, now as a boss or a leader, you will by nature always(or should always) be doing more than those following you. If you are not doing more than your employees then, my dear friend whom I respect, you are a shitty leader (this is Leadership 101). Expressed simply: leaders do more than their employees to run successful companies; however, they do not do everything. They give people tasks and divide things among others. They also develop a connection to the individual on a human level and if they can’t then make sure someone is.

 Another aside, if you can’t make a human connection with your employee, than they might not be the right fit or your business is growing and you need to find someone who you can connect with and who can connect with them. I’m no genius but if I’m not mistaken, I think they call these people Supervisors or Assistant Managers…

The point is, you can’t be successful at life by yourself. You need to share the load. You need to cooperate with others and see their success as your success. Simply put (because I like keeping things simple as it has always helped me to get the information I needed): when you prosper, I prosper and when I prosper, you prosper. This is information that seems to be lost amongst our Western Society, especially places like Social Media where “influencers” poach “followers” for their own personal popularity and not the growth of a real community. It happens to me all the time, can’t you sense my bitterness? Really though, why the hell are you following me so I can follow you and then you unfollow me? That’s the most childish shit I can think of… but allow me to catch my own judgement and self-righteousness, if we are not careful, we can all be playing the silly and pointless game of competition. So I’ll stop my finger waving and redirect my focus to myself. The moral of my rantings are that we have to be careful of the community we sow and what we hate most in others is usually just a mirror’s reflection of our own insecurities and frustrations.

So rather than admonishing the shortcomings of “influencer” culture, ask yourself (as I ask myself the same thing): why are you getting caught up in the non-sense? In the game without end? There are plenty of people who are authentic and genuinely want to make the world a better place, the thing is that they aren’t always as obvious and openly visible as the misdirected “changers” among us who really just want fame and fortune so they can sip champagne on a yacht (oddly specific? It’s because I’m definitely guilty of this). It all comes back to balance. We can’t be purely cooperative, there will always be some individuals who will abuse privileges and want more, just look at how Marxism worked in practicality: not well.[1] We also have to make sure that we have a strong support network of people who truly have our backs, or else we can become jaded when we find ourselves being “used”[2]. Also, never wait around for people to do what you want to be doing, lest you wait forever. If you want to do something or want to share something with the world, fucking do it already. In the age of the Internet, there is truly an audience for everything and I mean everything. If you want to write a book about Space Exploring Giraffes, a guaren-goddamn-tee you will make a millions of dollars.[3]

And my last point, in keeping with the theme of balancing between the two fields of cooperation and competition, or, collectivism and individualism respectfully; it is okay to experience financial success for what you create and provide for the world. Just don’t make that the sole purpose of what you do. Robin Williams talked about the harms of being so successful that people just artificially goad of you and de facto not your people. Charlamagne Tha God talked about this with Kayne and how disconnected he was due to his massive success. Kayne had a paid posse of people telling him that everything he did was “amazing” and “unprecedented” that it gave him a god complex, literally.[4] Honesty is salvation and salvation is painful, so just be careful of what you reap in this world because you likely will receive it. Keep the balance, enjoy the fruits of your labor, but never live like you think you are the King of All Men because you will be humbled at some point and the worst time to be humbled is upon your death bed because you have no chance at changing the story.[5] Ultimately, there are no bad people in this world, just lost people.

In conclusion, thank you for reading this. I enjoyed writing it. To pretentiously quote a genius, Richard Bach, “we teach best what we most need to learn” and I am no exception to this truism. I need to learn, which is what I strive to do daily. It has benefited my greatly and I fundamentally believe it will help you too. So let’s stop competing to be on top of the mountain and enjoy this most precious journey called life together. Keep the balance and God bless!

Robert Grant


[1] Don’t take my word for it, read a history book on Siberian Gulags.

[2] We got to get away from this language. If you are making yourself so available that you are being taken for granted, then maybe you need to reflect upon yourself and ask why you are being taken advantage of. Don’t be an easy target unless you can handle the consequences of being vulnerable.

[3] This is hereby a record of this idea, so if this comes out, I expect royalties. Thank you.

[4] No for real, you can search this shit up. I’m not lying he has compared himself to Jesus, his sixth-studio album is called Yeezus for God’s sakes. Pun intended.

[5] Because your cocky misdirected ass is dead.

People Do Not Change…

Unless They Want to Change

This is an important rule in life. Remember it.

I know I haven’t written a blog post in a while and that is due in large part to focusing on further developing our podcast. However, my wonderful daughter woke up early this morning (loudly) and after cajoling her back to sleep, I decided it would be a great time to work on an article (thanks Sophia). Today’s article is about a very simple rule that will bring you a lot more freedom in your life. The rule goes as follows: people do not change, unless they want to change.

Remember Newton’s Laws of Motion? (I don’t, in fact, I had to Google it before continuing any further). In 1687, Isaac Newton (then not yet referred to as “Sir” until he was knighted in 1705, thanks Google) proposed his three laws of motion in his ground breaking work the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. His theories on motion, which eventually became laws (the highest order of the Scientific Method), revolutionized the way we see the world today. Well, some of us anyways (I won’t drop any specific names but they see the world as non-spherical).

Thanks for inventing gravity, bro!

Now, obviously, I haven’t read his book but from what I gather it can be summarized as didactically exploring the three different Laws of Motion. The three laws are as follows: #1 “without resistance: objects in motion, stay in motion”; #2 “the greater the force, the greater the acceleration”; and #3 “for every action, there is a reaction”.  I am no physics teacher (so definitely don’t quote me on the 2nd law) but for the purposes of this article we are going to extrapolate the theories of momentum and motion into human behaviour. That is that people who act a certain way are not going to change unless they either A) have to or B) want to. No amount of wishful thinking or mindforcework is going to make a person change. You can encourage change, you can even be the model of said changes but in the end: the individual is the ultimate decider, the force and the accelerator, of change in their life.

I have heard it said that a majority of the world’s mental frustration and angst is based upon trying to control things that are simply out of their control. When I work with children (and clients of all ages for that matter), I always tell them that the only person they can control is themselves. Not nature. Not animals (especially not cats). And not others. So stop trying. If there is a behavior that you do not like about someone, you have choices to make. You can either tell them about it and hope they decide to change their behavior or you stop worrying about it altogether. Notice how both of these choices are under your control.

If you have a friend who is chronologically challenged (they are late for everything, and I’m not talking 15 minutes here, I mean an hour) and/or has extremely poor communication skills (perhaps they were raised by Carthusian monks on a lifelong monastic silence) and it drives you bonkers. Stop. Reflect. Is any of this behavior yours to control? No. It isn’t. So stop trying. These people will not change unless they have to or want to. Now, that is not to say that you say nothing or do nothing with this sheepish individual. Again, go back to your self-agency. You can make choices for yourself. Ask yourself: what do I want? If you want your friend to improve on quality x,y, or z, then tell them. But do not text them. We shirk from conflict enough as it is these days and texting, being the new form of human communication that it is (even angry letters sent from Popes and contemporaries of the Middle Ages typically took time to put a level of thought into their diatribes), is simply not an effective method of having a constructive discussion. If you want people to change, you need to tell them and then they can decided whether or not they want to.

The other version of change is when people have to. But really, nobody has to do anything if they don’t want something of it. Take for example the case of the “hopeless alcoholic” (I borrow this character  from Bill W’s Alcoholic Anonymous) who can’t stop drinking. Indeed, the compulsive drinking of this reprobate seems to suggest that they are afflicted with something not dissimilar from a disease. It is killing them yet they cannot stop. They are addicted. They are powerless to the drink. Yet we hear of so many people with similar tales of addiction that are able to successfully become sober and remain that way the rest of their lives. But how? Because they want to. They want to be clean. For their families, their friends, themselves. They are proud of their success and their choices (and damn proud they should be). Even if an individual is arrested and told that they can’t, say, have a drink. They still could do it. But if they look at themselves and realize: I am not proud of the fact that I physically assaulted a newspaper box and soiled myself at a bus stop, I need to get myself together here. That is not them having to do anything, that is them wanting to do something. They want to change themselves. These are lasting changes. Not when the wife says do this or I’ll leave. Not when the police say do this or you’re going to prison. Only when the individual says, I need to do this for [insert reason, clause, ultimatum here].

I could write a lot more on this. I have decided that I will and put them into a book to be lost in the oversaturated market that is self-help books. But that is enough for right now. If you like this, then comment on it and ask for more. Share it with your friends. Print it. Frame it. Or burn it. Whatever you do, realize it is your choice. Realize that no one has control over you. That you are the most important voice and decider in your life. That is not to say you should be a selfish individual but rather that you do things because you want to. Not because you feel like you have to. If someone really cares about you, they will want you to do what you want to do. They will not pressure you, they will encourage you. So make good choices and remember that you can’t control anyone, so stop trying to force it. People do not change, unless they want to.

R.G.

Image taken from: https://en.dopl3r.com/memes/dank/how-people-fixed-lightbulbs-before-isaac-newton-invented-gravity/792013