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What’s a greater signal of strength: attacking your competitors or actually encouraging them?  The default and perhaps natural response is to attack competitors.  They are a threat, are they not?  We all compete for the same resources do we not?  


Our hardwired logic seems to hold this notion of limited resources as an unalterable and golden rule.  Evolutionarily resources were limited and if you couldn’t win the battle you spread to a new location.  Many organisms function on this principle.  


However, there are symbiotic relationships, and this is where cooperation leads to a greater outcome for both parties.  Symbiosis has been around since the dawn of time.  Bees and flowering plants and trees have had a symbiotic relationship since pretty much forever.  At a certain point, one can’t live without the other given a symbiotic relationship.


There appears to be a stark divide: either you cooperate or compete.  But there is perhaps one more perspective that transcends this.  


In groups of tight friends, there is the occasional phenomenon that everyone in the group will be outrageously funny.  When one or two or three people from this tight group is in presence, they have the room in stitches with virtually every single sentence they utter.  Now why is this?  Does such a group of friends function on a kind of symbiosis?  Not really, they can hold their own independently.  So is it competition?  Sort of.  The real answer is that the words cooperation and competition both fail as a construct for labelling the situation.  In this instance competition is encouraged in order to create a better game and outcome for all involved.  This is a kind of symbiotic competition, which is a bit of a contradiction, but it’s a contradiction that works.



It’s similar to hormesis, which is when some kind of stressor - something normally seems as bad - actually makes something better if applied in the correct amount.  Working out, or lifting weights creates a hermetic response.  It stresses the body and in response the body gets stronger.  Something similar is happening in that group of funny friends.  Each joke and laugh is a challenge to the rest of the group to get better.  In the case of those friends, an instance of success is a beneficial threat to the rest of the group to get better.  Success encourages the competition, so why not do that actively and consciously instead of trying to squash the competition?


Any attempt to hold the competition back is ultimately a sign of weakness on the part of the party who sees the competition as a legitimate threat.

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Podcast Ep. 1137: Encouraging Competitors

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