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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 14-Apr-13


Sunday 14-April-13

What is winning?

As I write this, there's an article on TV about how Formula 1's Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to not try to overtake team mate Mark Weber. He got past, nearly causing both cars to crash out, and won the race. It has caused a lot of angst and highlights a big dilemma when team and individual goals differ.

A similar thing happens in business when people are rewarded more for individual performance than business success, and as a result they will clamber over their colleagues, stealing credit and knocking others in order to look better. And this highlights the problem: if individual wins are rewarded more than team wins, then the team will lose.

This all is based on a wider culture of individual success, where people are judged by their personal wins. Winners are lauded and given high status, while team players who help teams to win are lost in the background. When winning is everything, everyone wants to win.

This s all based on the assumption that people do their best when they have their own interests at heart rather than a more altruistic, social interest. Yet soldiers sacrifice their lives for greater goal or just to save their colleagues. I spent many years working for HP when the key value of 'contribution' make helping the company more important than helping yourself. It's possible, yet continues to be uncommon. I suspect this is connected with human nature, where selfishness is more basic and altruism is a higher motivation that requires conscious and moral choice.

While I don't approve of Vettel's actions I can't blame him either. He is a product of his culture and his genes.

Your comments

Someone gave me an advice when I was a kid, "after all, the only person you will be with at the end is always yourself". Until this day I'm fascinated with the profoundness of that phrase. I wish I was not that selfish, however, think about it again in the end what makes YOU happy? How productive you are vs How productive your team is. I take the first one, because at the end the only person that will stay 100% with me or YOU is oneself. 

 -- Isaac V

Dave replies:
Indeed a profound thought, Isaac. A friend used to sign himself off as 'Jim. At the center of the known universe'. I didn't get it for ages.

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