The biggest secret to life (and work)

It’s time for each of us to realize the biggest change we need is one of mindset.

We’ve been thinking a lot about competition lately. How so much of our society is set up on win-lose scenarios. For one person or team or organization to win, one or more must lose. There is only one promotion to the coveted title. There are only so many slots on the team. There are only so many people, teams and organizations that can be #1.

What they often don’t tell us is that feeling of being at the top of the game is fleeting. After you have the #1 slot in market share, for example, what do you do? You fight to hold on to it. Someone ultimately loses, while someone wins. But we fight at all costs and stay in this unrealistic cycle of perpetual growth that is not aligned with how nature works. So much of the busyness and stress we experience today is man-made. What is its purpose? What prize do we get for being the busiest and most stressed out on the planet?

Can you imagine what would be possible for us and future generations if we shifted our mindset to healthy competition?—?to a desire to learn and create rather than just win and be celebrated and have illusionary fame? How many people have we met who aspire to be the next Steve Jobs or $1 billion dollar acquisition or J.K. Rowling? Why not just bring children up to be the best versions of themselves? Allow us some sanity to learn and grow to see how we sprout and evolve.

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

—?J.K. Rowling

She might be the most financially successful author in history now, but it’s worth remembering how Rowling’s journey began: After sending her manuscript to 12 different publishers and being rejected by each one, she began losing confidence in her book.

Finally, the editor at Bloomsbury Publishing sat down to read the manuscript – and so did his 8 year-old daughter. The little girl loved the opening chapters, and begged to read the whole thing. As a result, the publisher agreed to publish Rowling’s novel, but left her with a warning: get a day job, because she wouldn’t make any money writing children’s books.

We are sharing this story not to highlight her perceived “success” but because we know how J.K. Rowling’s stories went on to capture the imaginations of children (and adults) everywhere. We want to remind ourselves that super heroes are merely cartoon characters with super powers. The rest of us are simply human.

“I don’t want to fail, of course. But even though I didn’t know how bad things really were, I still had a lot to think about before I said yes. I had to consider the implications for Pixar, for my family, for my reputation. I decided that I didn’t really care, because this is what I want to do. If I try my best and fail, well, I’ve tried my best.”

—?Steve Jobs

The point of life is not who dies with the most possessions or is the most well known. The point of life is to live fully, to experiment, to feel the range of our humanity deeply and connect with ourselves and others like never before.

If you look deep inside, do you want to take market share away from your perceived competitor or do you want to create new markets that delight people with why you are here and lift others up? Business is the most powerful force organizing humanity today and when we see it as a valuable exchange based on need, much can change on this planet and in our lives. What matters deeply to you? How can you lift yourself up? How can you lift others up?

It’s always a conscious choice.

Ayelet Baron
Ayelet Baron
Ayelet combines lessons learned from more than a decade as a high-tech industry executive with her roots as a researcher, change catalyst and strategic communicator. This rare blend of expertise enables her to assess and advise individuals and organizations that seek to embrace new ways of working. She helps leaders transform and build healthy and resilient organizations. She is also a sought after keynote speaker on collaboration, leadership and building 21st century organizations. Her award winning business book, Our Journey to Corporate Sanity, helps you navigate a new path for business as a conscious 21st century leader.

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