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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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Competition gone ugly (03/15/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

When does competition become vicious? Unhealthy? Greedy? Dangerous? Sinister? Does the question answer itself? It crossed my mind recently as I was surfing with the TV remote. “Reality television” they call it. Grown men can be seen flexing their gaudy muscles, disgustingly grunting and scowling at each other.

Moving on, I came across parents swearing, hollering and throwing punches, disrupting their kids’ softball game. I believe competitive, organized sports for young people can be a good thing. If it goes beyond teaching kids to be team players and to be good sports, by bullying and belittling, showing favoritism, allowing, even encouraging, injured kids to keep playing, then what message is that reinforcing? When star athletes risk reputation and career, as well as their health, by using steroid, enhancement drugs, being a winner becomes destructive desperation.

On another channel there was a preview of a new season of Donald Trump’s show that left a bitter taste in my mouth. Adults acting badly were throwing their weight around and having temper tantrums, using any means possible to come up on top in the boardroom showdown.

In the world of business, competition can be nasty and underhanded. Haven’t you noticed that dishonesty and backstabbing has been an accepted, if not expected, manner of conducting business, increasing sales, and dealing with the public? The “I” factor reduces healthy competition to lethal force and degradation of moral values.

An in-your-face sales pitch can turn you off in a hurry! A clerk recently approached Pat and I as we entered a store, to ask us if we wanted to save 30% on any purchase by signing up for their credit card. After we adamantly declined she continued to follow us with her lingo. As we checked out, there was the same clerk. She badgered us to the point of harassment until we had to walk away. What part of “CASH” didn’t she understand?

From the book of essays I mentioned last week, “Imagine – What America Could Be In The 21st Century,” Lance Secretan, who had built the international organization Manpower Limited, the world’s largest employer with 72,000 employees, wrote “The Spirit of Work.” Secretan takes on the subject of competition, a term which often implies unfriendly aggression, even hostility. Secretan explains, “It (competition) focuses on the negative energy of destroying an opponent instead of on the positive energy of enhancing value for customers, employees, and suppliers by meeting their needs.”

Inspire to hire! Secretan advises businesses to become “customer-sensitive” and provide a “people-oriented work environment, where our people are allowed freedom to carry out their responsibilities, take ownership of what they do, and to earn fair financial rewards.” “More people than ever before are resolving to find joy in their work, rather than just having a job.”

“We have been confusing motivation with inspiration,” relates Secretan. “Motivation is a relationship between personalities; inspiration is a relationship between souls. Motivation is based on greed; inspiration is an act of love.”

He speculates what the future will hold: “The most important ‘fringe benefit’ is no longer health care or a pension.” It is a right to learn, as we are challenged to keep pace with today’s ever-advancing cyberworld. “When we attempt to motivate, we are not usually intending to serve others in their best interests.” “It is this transparently selfish intent that has caused much of the widespread cynicism among so many followers today.”

In closing, Secretan writes, “America during the last 200 years has been defined by corporate America – the American dream as measured by the individual material success achieved through corporate success.” “The personality will continue to be an important arbiter of success, but the spirit will gain an equal voice.” Theologian Thomas Moore noted, “But at the end of the 20th century, a remarkable thing happened. People of all kinds became attracted to spirituality.”

Seek and you shall find.

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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