Admittedly I’m more partial to the summer Olympics (volleyball, anyone?), but the spirit of competitiveness and sportsmanship on display at Sochi is refreshing.

If you happened to catch Czech snowboarder Sarka Pancochova’s scary fall, where she cracked her helmet, you know what I mean. Pancochova knew she had to have a performance for the ages to win gold, and true to her competitive nature, she went for it. Seconds later, though, she was smacking her head on the slope, much to the dismay of on-looking skiers and audience members, whose genuine concern was captured on camera for all the world to see.

In that moment, I did not sense Pancochova’s rivals found any delight in her bad spill. I sensed only concern for their fallen colleague, the kind of attitude that says “I want to win by doing my best, and not at the expense (or wellbeing) of somebody else.”

I wrote a blog about competition almost two years ago, wondering how the business world (and even our politics) might benefit if competition were based on winning by being the best we can be rather than winning by tearing down the other guy (or gal) down. Positive competition is healthy—it leads to innovation and success—while competition based on settling scores is emotionally and financially destructive.

So in the spirit of Olympic Athletes around the globe, here’s that blog again. Enjoy!

Win By Being the Best You Can Be

(Originally posted on April 17, 2012)

REVENGE. It sure makes for great movie fodder. After all, what can be better than Ricardo Montalbán (as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II) purring “Revenge is a dish best served cold” to Kirk and crew as the faltering Enterprise faces near-certain doom? Good stuff for the big screen, but revenge as a way of life, a way of conducting business is distracting and unproductive at best, and can leave you lost.

How do YOU compete with other businesses in your “space?” Do you compete on value, customer service, or the unique qualities of your product to build your business and gain success? Or do you simply try to settle scores with your competition, trying to win through “revenge” and belittling “the other guy”?

Long ago, Chinese philosopher Confucius advised “before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” Those were wise words then, they remain wise words today.

Looking at your business, do you feel you should be “winning” the competition with others, but aren’t? Do you blame someone else, whether it’s a person or a business, for your lack of success? Does this “blame game” fuel a desire to lash out at competitors—taking the proverbial “low road”—versus taking a loftier route?

Settling scores, revenge, retribution—they’re all pretty much the same and they all result in the same thing: HUGE energy drains on you, your emotions, your business, and your professional and social circles. Holding a grudge takes energy. It’s emotionally destructive. And most importantly, it distracts from the positive things in life: growth, fun . . . love.

Now, I’m not suggesting you need to “love” your competition. To be successful in business, you do need to have an “I’m in it to win it” mentality; you need to be competitive — and competition is healthy. (Just look at where the Apple-Microsoft wars have gotten us!) But what you don’t need is an “I’m here to screw the other guy” mentality, which in this King Monkey’s humble opinion is how the financial markets ended up in such a mess.

So if “revenge” is your motivation for getting up in the morning, going to work, and selling your “widgets” it’s time to revisit why you’re in business at all.

As a first step, my suggestion is to let go of the negative and embrace the positive. Just step back. Think about what you do best and how you can contribute to solving the problems and/or addressing the “pains” of your customers and clients. That’s what the team at Barrel O’Monkeyz does as part of the “Discovery Phase” when engaging new clients. We take a look at what the client can do to be the best he or she can be. We ask, “what makes the business unique or different?” Sure, we look at competitors to determine what they’re doing and what we’re up against. But we don’t strategize to tear them down. Instead, we strategize to build our clients up.

“Win” by being the best you can be. Take smart action designed to grow your business: build the better product, provide the better service, innovate and create something consumers can’t live without. Hello iPod, iPhone, iPad . . . need I go on? (And just think if we could inject a little of this philosophy into Washington D.C. and our politics in general, what we might accomplish!)

What do you think? What smart actions can YOU take today to win by being the best you can be?