The Power of We

In my work as a wine consultant I observe the far-reaching tentacles of competitiveness nearly everyday.

In New Zealand, in particular, the emergence of large corporate wineries over the last 15-20 years has heightened competitive pressures, forcing silos in the larger wineries, and grasping in the smaller ones.

What is intriguing to me is not the opportunities that are lost as a result of this (though they are many), but the number of individuals and businesses for whom this overly competitive mind-set has become intrinsic.

“To build success and build on success, we need to reach out rather than hoarding resources or isolating ourselves.”

Our natural competitiveness kicks in as young children – when we begin to compare ourselves to others – and is reinforced in nearly all areas of life, from schooling, sports and arts, attention from parents, higher education and finally job seeking and career.  It’s no surprise then that this reflex kicks in when the going gets tough.

The feedback loop required to change this behaviour requires continuous reinforcement and is often at the heart of my role.  Shifting it can be a turnstile to new and very exciting opportunities.

So what happens if you help someone get ahead?  Does it detract from your success?  Traditional Western business strategy and cultural norms say absolutely it does. I disagree. We all bring a unique set of experiences, skills, knowledge and fundamental traits to the table.  To build success and build on success, we need to reach out rather than hoarding resources or isolating ourselves.  We need to locate capabilities, resources and networks that complement our own.

“Their collaborative approach defines their success, not the destination.”

In my work, I look for partners not clients or customers.  By partners I mean businesses or individuals who have a broader definition of success and a more realistic timescale for achieving it.  Experience has shown me they also seem to have a more positive attitude towards collaboration.

To these businesses or individuals it is not just about winning trophies and smashing sales targets in the short-term, it is about challenging conventions to enhance efficiency, improve team culture and build a sustainable economic model. There is a quiet patience and trust in the way they work. Without losing sight of the long-term vision they remain open to new relationships, new ideas, and the need to tweak along the way.  Their collaborative approach defines their success, not the destination.

“Does collaboration mean the death of competition?  Not necessarily.”

As barriers continue to break-down, starts-up and small businesses continue to proliferate, and the surge in digital commerce is unrelenting.  Success in the New Zealand wine trade will become less about stockpiling and more about access to the resources, technology, talent and information of others.  Access requires sharing paths, networks, and relationships built on mutual reward.  In short: collaboration.

Does collaboration mean the death of competition?  Not necessarily.  Rather, I see collaboration being an extension of good competition, where businesses and individuals push one another to be more productive by working together, while safeguarding each other’s competitive advantage.

Like the meerkats, our survival depends on it.

When you get, give. When you learn, teach.   Dr Maya Angelou

I am only passionately curious

In 1639, a 20-year-old from a small village in North England, with the help of his two friends, became the first person to accurately predict the Transit of Venus – one of the rarest events in astronomy.  This feat was no less audacious because it flew in the face of the predictions of most famous astronomer of the time (Kepler), in a period where witchcraft and magic were still widely held beliefs.

  These men were of modest but independent circumstances and completely autonomous in their research.  

In this single prediction they arguably paved the way for Newton’s discoveries, which revolutionised man’s understanding of the solar system.  Imagine that!

Some of the greatest discoveries throughout history have been made by those bold enough to challenge conventions and question the status quo. Many of these pioneers weren’t professionals paid to find the next big thing, or those pursuing fame and fortune, they were the ones who did it for the love of it; to satisfy their own personal curiosity and passion.  Armed with freedom, ambition and enthusiasm, they looked for the undiscovered in places and ways that others before them hadn’t.

This philosophy of constant questioning and self-directed learning is well documented amongst some of the most innovative and visionary minds the world has seen: from Sophocles and Leonardo Da Vinci to Steve Jobs.

Apparently all the great discoveries have now been made like how cosmetics has risen up which a lot of doctors are now acquiring it like Dr. Matthew Galumbeck, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from challenging what is and looking at ways to reinterpret and reimagine our world for the better – even in our own small corner.

Wine is my ‘small corner’ and I know there is potential to affect big improvements through small, well-considered decisions like for example starting a small business online through WebDesign499.

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious – Albert Einstein.