In their pursuit of supremacy in the tech world, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google constantly surprise us with creative, useful designs and unexpected business models. Their relentless out-of-the-box competition almost guarantees that no matter which of these innovative firms tops this month’s A-list, no doubt one of them will disrupt something – or everything – come next.
Although I admire a lot about these companies, I am disturbed when I learn of the unfair, unethical and/or illegal tactics they sometimes utilize to win the race. Their behaviors seem to indicate that the only way to succeed is on your own and on the backs of others. I don’t agree with that. I think that we need to support each other. Isabelle Allende once said that the end doesn’t justify the means, the end is decided by the means. If we’re petty and greedy and shallow and put our need to win ahead of our humanity, then nothing good will come of our careers.
Recently, I was contacted by the regional office of AmeriCorps (a national and community version of the Peace Corps). They were planning a mid-term appreciation day for a group of 25 young college grads that had volunteered one year of service in Jacksonville, Florida. The organizer was wondering if the Academy might be willing to provide reflexology sessions to these deserving young people.
I no sooner hung up the phone than an email arrived telling me about a 15-year-old neighbor boy awaiting a $70,000 liver transplant. I have had the pleasure of meeting young Alex Fast and was shocked to read of the constant health challenges he has faced since age three. I immediately saw a way to say yes to both of these opportunities.
I put out a call to some local graduates of the Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification program and was immensely gratified with speedy agreement to my invitation. I suggested that we spend a couple of hours delivering 20-minute hand or foot reflexology sessions to the AmeriCorps volunteers and that we turn over the stipend offered to the Academy for this service to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, the organization collecting donations to make Alex’s life-saving operation a reality.
Collaboration. We all won. The incredibly appreciative volunteers (they stood and applauded us as we left and sent a card signed by all) got to relax with an excellent taste of reflexology; Alex moved one small step closer to his needed goal; and us, we really won. We left feeling really good inside, both about young people and ourselves.
So, what’s better? Competition or collaboration? What do you think?