Know your enemy

Here’s a lovely (and obviously topical) picture to start the blog.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Olympic Heptathlon champion needs little introduction I guess but it was something else that struck me. In her moment of triumph she’s not just focussed on herself or the individual glory, she is amongst her fellow athletes. Now whilst I know that a communal victory lap is common in the multi-events it still impressed me just how much

AP Photo/Martin Meissner

her competitors were generous in the face of her victory. They seemed genuinely pleased for her and thrilled to be part of the event. Maybe it’s “just another day at the office” for them but I started to wonder about whether I could be as generous in the face of such obvious competition and success. Many of the organisations I have worked for use targets to motivate staff and play departments against each other in some mythical competition. This just seems to lead to empire building, silo mentality and suspicion. Certainly not the kind of atmosphere I want to work in. Maybe the heptathletes are on to something in their collaborative approach…..

AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

Then later the same night who should I watch but Mo Farah winning the 10,000m. The guy behind him is Galen Rupp. An American, in this context, his opposition, the enemy. Yet they train together in Oregon and the commentators made much of whether they might work together to ward off the influence of an Ethiopian team of 3 runners. Whether they did, I don’t know. I do know that Rupp seemed just as pleased for Farah as he was for himself. Almost that they had both given their all but the best man on the night had won. Maybe Rupp felt that chasing Farah was his best chance for a medal and tailed him but I like to think that perhaps he had looked at his task, wondered how he might achieve that and decided his best hope was to work with his enemy. Study them, learn from them, share his knowledge with them in the hope that together we all become better.

So how does this relate to work? To you?

Well I’m fairly certain that you interact with people who don’t share the same world view as you, who have differing values or espouse a way of doing things which is at odds with your approach. Organisationally, you might have considered them “enemies”. Now just because you don’t see eye to eye, doesn’t mean there isn’t something to learn from them. So rather than discounting their methods, their ideas and processes, take an open mind to those meetings, try to see things from their point of view. That way, you can isolate the useful pieces and incorporate it in to your plan. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll find you have more in common than you realise. Then you’ll both be able to deliver on that Olympic motto. “Faster, higher, stronger”

P.S. For extra Olympic points on difficulty /execution – take a look at when you are your own worst enemy. What can you learn from yourself then………?


About Jon Bartlett

I'm a coach, blogging on things that occur to me, that I want to share and any other fun stuff I find lying around in the real world.
This entry was posted in Coaching, Work and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Know your enemy

  1. Pingback: Nifty Fifty | projectlibero

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