COOPERATE or COMPETE?

For me the year 2020 is the beginning of a new lifestyle. One step in our evolutionary process from now on would require that humans learn to be cooperative rather than competitive. Humans are naturally competitive. Since the days of cavemen, humans learned to survive by fighting, by being  at war with other humans. Today humans continue to invest trillions of dollars into war and weapons…while millions of people go to sleep hungry.

I always wondered how many of our global emergencies could be solved if only we cooperated rather than competed with one another. I know it sounds simple, yet from personal experience, I know that getting humans to compete is much easier than getting them to cooperate. And the most important place where we must start cooperating is at our workplaces. I’ve seen so much internal competition everywhere I worked. At all my workplaces there was always a “fake cooperation” mainly between the team leaders and their team members. Not to say something about different departments, where there was less or no cooperation at all. Probably in small companies the things are different, yet even there I am not so sure.

In big corporation as it was in my case, there was always competition and I tell you my friends this is very wrong. I would say: We don’t need that internally, we are colleagues, we should be like a big strong team. But the sad reality is that this was never the case.

In reality, everyday my colleagues come to work and we fight amongst ourselves. And that is the root cause of a very bad leadership. This is what unfortunately most team leaders don’t understand, they forget why they are in charge. It should be written with bolt letters in their job description or if it is, they should keep a copy on their desk to have a look at it until they learn that the main task of a leader and the hardest one is to get the team members to cooperate. I’ve been working in big corporations so far and I have never seen a “leader” doing that. It seems each person wants his or her own ‘rules’ their ‘ way of doing things’ and especially their own opinion’. If we cooperated more and competed less internally, everyone would make more money.

But for that to happen it would take global emergencies for humans to cooperate. Until there was a true emergency it was human nature to compete or even worse, do nothing.  The concern is that the coming emergencies would be biggest than our abilities, even if we did finally, choose to cooperate. And that my friends it exactly what is happening right now. We were not ready to deal with the pandemic we are facing within these days. After 2+ months of Lock Down  We are still dabbling and we don’t know what to do. We don’t even know how to cooperate because we were never used to cooperate.

COMPETING FOR GRADES.

Why we always compete? Well… let’s have a look at our schooling system.

The School teach students to compete as opposed to cooperate. When I was in school I often wanted to cooperate…but that’s often called cheating. In many ways the classroom is not much different than a Neanderthal man’s cave. In the cave known as a classroom young kids are taught to compete against their classmates if they want good grades. Being an A student does not necessarily mean the student is smarter. An “A” means you won, you beat your classmates. It is no different than being the bully in the schoolyard, beating up on weaker classmates. Small wonder that many kids do not like school.

 If the A student cooperate and helps their classmates, they are thrown out of school for cheating. Parents encourage this primitive academic behavior. They want their young, club-wielding Neanderthal to beat the brains out of his or her classmates. Although few will admit it, they want to make sure their child gets the good grades, good job and high pay. Grades in many ways are about money.

After a child graduates at the top of the class, the next cave the A student enters is the corporate world. Once hired, the young executive’s job is to ‘’climb the corporate ladder” aka “ beat on your peers”. They don’t dare cooperate because there is only one seat at the top, and they want to make sure that seat has their name on it. If businesses cooperate too closely it can be called a monopoly or if it is less formal but still anti-competitive it can be collision – both of which are often illegal;

In the world of politics, cooperation could be considered treason. Republicans do not dare cooperate with Democrats. In many cases, if a politician reaches “ across  the aisle”, their own party cuts off their arm. This is why is so much “grid lock” – versus real progress – in government. Nothing gets done and the emergencies grow into disasters.

Therefore humanity’s next evolutionary challenge is to learn to cooperate and solve our global problems. The problem is, humans only know how to compete. We have yet to really learn to cooperate. Learning to cooperate would be evolutionary.

Now the question is: Can a person learn in a classroom where students cooperate rather than compete.

The answer is : Sure, of course she can.

And here I can give 2 very common examples.

1. Cooperation is essential in team sports. As they say: there is no” I” in the team, but there is an “I” in win. Too many students leave school understanding the ‘ I” in win, rather than the ”we” win in team.In team sports, the team supports each individual to be the best they can be, or the team doesn’t win.

In the classroom the individual student does not want others to be the best they can be, the individual wants to be the best.

2.In the Marine Corps Officer Candidate school (OCS) young officer candidates are evaluated not on how many times their team wins, but how well their team cooperates as a team. On some evaluations, winning or losing is not even mentioned. In other words winning is not as important as cooperating in the Marine Corp. Marines know that if they cooperate they win. This is why Marines believe they are the best branch of service. And although Marines believe they are the best of all branches of the service. No Marine, believes he or she is better than another marine. Regardless of rank, marines are taught to respect and value other Marines. this is why it’s said “once a Marine always a Marine”. The bond between Marines is spiritual not financial.

So to answer the question “Can you learn in a cooperative environment?” the answer is YES. But that’s not always true in an academic classroom. The world of academics is a world of “kill or be killed”, a world of “ survival of the fittest”, a world of “winners and losers”, a world of “winners and losers”, a world of “I’m smart and you’re not”, a world of “I win” not “we win”…and a world where “cooperation is cheating”.

You might ask me now, What exactly does that mean? Are you saying that I should start cooperating?

Well…Not exactly. Again, the generalized principle is:

Unity is plural, at minimum two

The marine Corps trains each Marine to be strong as an individual and as a team member. When it comes to money many individuals are weak individually so no one wants them on their financial team. In the world of money the richest people In the world operate in teams. Yet most people operate as individuals. That’s why most people are losers in the game of money. To maximize your opportunity for a second chance you have to get strong individually as well as learn to cooperate on a team. And this is what I learn from what the year 2020 is teaching us.

From now on we should STOP competing and learn to COOPERATE more.

Published by florijn2019

I am a material science engineer working in Automotive Industry for some years and I have been doing projects in mechanical design using different CAD softwares such as CATIA V5, and NX. I have knowledge in plastics design, injection molding and automotive glass technology but I have also interests in new technologies such as artificial intelligence and aerospace industry. In my free time I like to travel the world, to learn about new cultures and make friends in different countries. Currently I can speak 5 languages : Romanian, English, German, French and Dutch. I was born in Romania but I am living in Belgium since Jan.2011.

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