When I was in 7th grade I loved playing football. There came a time when we had to play a match against another school and the team captain was to be chosen from my class. I was one of the two candidates and the other one was my best friend, Ali. Driven by the sense of competition, I had to practice more and get better at what I did. So, I decided to join a local football club (Eagle Club) and didn’t invite Ali to do the same.
Long story short, I became the captain (i.e. won the competition) but I lost a very good friend. As it turns out Ali found out about my local football club membership and that I could have asked him to come along with me. While the competition was healthy but winning came at a hefty price i.e. we started having arguments about it. And finally, the conflict led us to lose the football match due to the poor coordination between us.
Collaboration Over Competition#
Winning Without a Fight#
Since that day, I have always preferred to win without a fight. Conflicts are inevitable but a war helps no one. While defeat could be humiliating, victory could be too costly. I used to think that competition was healthy. Most of us do! I thought that by competing to be the best, I’d be more successful, people would like me more, and life would be awesome. Instead, each time I “won” and achieved what I wanted by competing, I lost someone.
I want you to know that I didn’t do any of that with malice. In fact, I’m sure I was not completely aware of the fact and it was all just out of habit. So, it doesn’t matter if you have the good intentions or not, competitions can hurt. Why do we compete? I think it has more to do with our primitive reflexes and natural instincts.
WordPress has one of the best online communities. People care less about competition and pay more attention to the software itself. While conflicts and difference of opinion do exist — which is pretty common in any open source community — what matters the most is that we are a compact whole.
“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” — Charles Darwin
Carrie Dils wrote a piece The Shocking Truth: I’m Not Your Competition when the organizer canceled a meetup by thinking of her as a competition and the WordPress community lost. I think I am facing something similar, though, I won’t get into the details of it.
Why I Am Not Your Competition!#
I cannot express this in a better way than Carrie
I realize YOU may not be worried about ME as competition, so feel free to pretend I’m the freelancer sitting one table over from you at the coffee shop… Call me crazy. Just don’t call me your competition. As fellow WordPress junkies, we’re not all competing for the same slice of pie. I’d rather spend my efforts collaborating with you and learning from you than calling you my competition and shutting the door on a possibility.
In this post, I want to write down my vision and idea of success as a WordPress developer. I want to make this a public knowledge, that WordPress is personal to me which makes WordPress community my home. That today, I choose collaboration over competition for better business and relationships. How about a few reasons to why I am not your competition.
I do not strive to outdo another for acknowledgment, a prize, supremacy, profit, and to engage in a contest. WordPres community as I mentioned is my home. I am more interested in building better relationships to work with you and to co-operate then to fight. I don’t want to snatch your opportunity to do something good, in contrary, I want to help you succeed. Competition may help make me faster but I don’t want that, I want to be better and that’s what collaboration does.
The 80-20 Rule#
At some stage of life, everyone has to compete. Competition is not bad but competition for the sake of competition is bad. While competition is a reality, is there really as much competition as you think? The Pareto Principle says that 20% of any population will create 80% of the results. So not only will 20% of the football players on a team generate 80% of the goals, but, 20% of the businesses in any given niche will make 80% of the sales. This means that no, there is not as much competition as you think, but the competition amongst that 20% might probably be fierce. What can we do about that?
I Am ≠ You ≠ Me#
There, I said it. The question you should ask yourself is whether your skillset is exactly similar to mine? Do we have the same niche or forte? In that niche if there were only you, would you be able to handle all the business there is?
E.g. Let me borrow your imagination since it’s a terrible thing to waste. Let’s say, just like me, you had an Electrical Engineering background, you started as a blogger, two years later you consulted as an internet marketer, then you learned how to design and develop, and experimented with both of these fields for four years to finally end up with WordPress as a Full Stack & Frontend Developer. Even then you might be interested in building plugins and I might be into themes. Then there is the difference in the way we would code. The probability of us fighting for the same client is what?
Will I get credit for my contribution? And who wants to be one of many, just a cog in the wheel? Will I lose business by sharing my ideas and having someone else take advantage of them? These questions come from a place of fear or lack. But what’s important is that no two people can be identical. If we both develop WordPress themes, I’m sure you would develop something way too different than mine. Even if we end up competing for the same audience, here’s what you should do —
If we both develop WordPress themes, I’m sure you would develop something way too different than mine. Maybe, I have a certain skillset to offer you, that you don’t know of? Maybe we both don’t know how well we can work together? Even if we end up competing for the same audience, here’s what you should do — reach out and we both will see if there’s a possibility to work together. If we ended up collaborating we may help that same audience get the most bang of their buck?
Collaboration = A Dent™#
I have big dreams and I don’t want to end up alone when I achieve something. I cannot be the master of all trades. I love to compete with myself. This type of competition allows collaboration. Inspiration without collaboration is just a lot of great ideas that evaporate into thin air.
So what happens when we bring a number of people or businesses together, along with our unique talents, gifts, knowledge, and experiences, and start a process of collaboration? They can put A Dent™ in the universe.
I want to do that. I want to help you do that. Collaboration isn’t about giving up your individuality. It is about realizing your potential. It is about bringing your many gifts to the table and sharing them in pursuit of a common goal. It is about bringing your ideas, your passion, your mind, heart, and soul to the table.
Collaboration isn’t about being best friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you’re working with. It is about putting any and all baggage aside, bringing your best self to the table, and focusing on the common goal.
- Let’s be friends: I love building relationships. Whenever I am curious about someone’s life and work, a relationship begins. When I help and contribute, that relationship flourishes.
- Unity & Creativity: It’s such a joy to work with different ensembles and create a collaboration. Rehearsing and building a performance is very interesting for me. Two brains are better than one. You may be a better developer but I could help you market the product. I may be good at frontend and you could help me with the backend. Possibilities are infinite.
- Vulnerability: Putting myself out there and exposing my work or heart for criticism and rejection is hard, but I can’t enjoy love, praise, and joy without risking the bad stuff. Collaborating with others makes that risk easier because I know someone will be there to celebrate or catch me when I fall.
Stop measuring up, climbing the ladder and tearing down others to build yourself up. It’s time to connect and collaborate, to support and strive for better relationships in life and business.
Ultimately the benefits of collaboration must translate into improved performance, however that is measured – by reduced costs, increased revenues, additional capability or the creation of new opportunities. It depends on a mutually beneficial relationship where each participant has something of value to bring to the table.
Ask yourself, who can I collaborate with to really grow my business? You won’t be sorry.
P.S. In 2016, I plan to write more about collaboration, team-effort, partnerships and so on. After all, it’s one of my new year’s resolutions to collaborate and partner up. Maybe you are my next partner. I want to hear about your work and get to know you better too, because there is more lifting to be done.
Great article Ahmad!
I fully agree that by collaborating with each other, we all win in the end. We’re all on the same ship here and let’s support and help each other where we can.
Thank you, Matt!
I just read your response to this article. I’m glad I have so many like minded friends in the WordPress community. Let’s do it together.