Competition brings out the best and worst in us. How we compete is just as important as the outcome—in fact, likely more so. The ends do not justify the means. Nicholas Pearce in his book The Purpose Path says “The means are just as important as the ends, and some might go even so far as to say that the means are themselves the ends.” I could not agree more.
Pearce points out people who have done strange things in competition, revealing cracks in their character. In the 1980 Boston Marathon, Rosie Ruiz disappeared during the course, only to reappear later near the finish line. Lance Armstrong had all of his Tour de France championships revoked after it came out that he had taken steroids. And Pete Rose will likely never be included in the Baseball Hall of Fame because he had gambled on the outcome of games he coached.
But these scenarios remind us that competition is not about winning, as much as we make it about winning. But in God’s economy, that’s not the purpose of competition. As Nicholas Pearce said, the means are just as important as the ends. There is something larger at stake in the process of competing. In God’s eyes, here are three purposes of competition.
Several years ago, I oversaw some annual events for the organization I worked for. Sometimes several dozen people would attend, sometimes a smaller number. But regardless of the number of attendees, there were innumerable details that had to be coordinated. And to handle all those details, I turned to Beth. I knew as soon as I handed the event off to Beth, it was as good as done, because she came back to me only if she had questions. She handled every single detail with perfect ease. She could run an intimate event, a small conference, or even a large convention. That’s because she took ownership of whatever she was asked to do.
I remember the many phone conversations with Beth. I would ask her, “What do we need to do about this?” And she would inevitably say, “Already taken care of.” While still on the call, I would think of something else and ask, “Have you been able to deal with that?” And again, she would say, “I’ve already got it covered.”
Beth led by taking ownership of her role. She understood what was expected of her, and she expanded her role by thinking through everything that was involved with her responsibilities. As a result, her job was done well, and the organization benefited as well.
By being willing to pitch in and do what is necessary, you will become invaluable to everyone around you. You do not have to wait for someone else’s permission to take ownership of your situation. Your boss wants you to take charge of your job. Here are three specific actions you can focus on in your workplace to take ownership of your role.
Many years ago I worked for a guy I’ll call Greg. Working with Greg was awkward. He badmouthed his boss in the office, but in public he spoke favorably about him. To outsiders, he seemed like a good team player, but those of us who worked for him knew otherwise. Then Greg got a promotion that gave him even greater autonomy. His role involved more travel and he had more opportunities to represent his boss and the organization. While he was competent at what he did, he still did not have a positive opinion of his boss.
One day, Greg’s opinions caught up to him. He was dismissed for disloyalty to his boss and to the organization. Despite getting caught, he did not express remorse over how he handled the situation. Instead he blamed his boss.
When Greg said disparaging things about his boss, it was less a statement about his boss and more a statement about himself. While he represented his boss he also represented himself, and what he said about his boss within the office reflected poorly on himself.
When you represent your boss, you also represent yourself. How you conduct yourself representing your employer says a lot about you. Perhaps you complain about your employer to others so that they will join you in complaining about their employers. At best, it drags you down to a lower level. At worst, it poisons your relationship with other people and damages your prospects at getting employed elsewhere.
It is up to you whether you change your attitude and choose to represent yourself and your employer in a way that honors both you and your company. No one can improve your attitude for you. You have to be the one who will decide to change your attitude.
Whether you deal directly with customers or not, you represent your employer to people in your sphere of influence. Here are three areas in which you should monitor your attitude to represent yourself and your organization well.
I’ve been asked many times throughout my career if I am a pastor. And since I am not ordained, I respond in the negative. But I am a minister. And for that matter, so are you. Because your business is God’s business.
What you do for a living matters to God. While God wants some of us to become pastors, He does not want all of His kids to become pastors. He wants some of us to be involved in the business world. By serving Him in business, we can be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) to those we work with, those we work for, and those who work for us.
God wants you to do your work so that others see Him in your work. You do that best when you conduct yourself as a person of integrity. God wants you to do the right thing even if no one is there to check up on you. He wants you to use, what Proverbs 16:11 (NIV) calls, “honest scales.”
Based on Proverbs 16:11, here are three reasons why “honest scales” are important in God’s business.
In today’s culture, you don’t often see people give a real apology. They don’t even acknowledge that they have done anything wrong. They make excuses for their behavior, and they try to skirt around the issue. As a result, they say nothing of any importance, and their relationship with the offended party worsens.
Today nobody expects anyone to apologize anymore. People want to save face and pretend that they haven’t done anything wrong. Politicians say they are “sorry IF they have offended anyone.” But that doesn’t deal with anything and it doesn’t help their credibility improve.
So what does a real apology look like? Here are three steps to making a real apology and what you can expect to happen as a result.
When is it important to have integrity? Some of the time or all of the time? My friend Ben Case, President of Case Consulting Services, has been a hallmark of integrity as long as I have known him. And he tells a powerful story to explain to importance of integrity.
Before I started Transformational Impact LLC, I worked with Ben. He is reputedly one of the best major gift fundraisers in the world, having helped nonprofits raise more than $4.3 billion in his 40 years of fundraising. And he shares his expertise six days a week in the Tip o’ the Morning, a one-minute read covering the basic principles of fundraising (and sometimes life) that we need to know and practice to be successful.
Even though I no longer work with Ben, I still occasionally write a Tip o’ the Morning. And I am pleased to post an occasional Tip from Ben on my blog. Here’s Ben’s Most Valuable Tip (MVT) #44 entitled, “When Are You Going to Have Integrity—Some of the Time or All of the Time? Integrity Means All the Time.
Integrity is important for your leadership. It is important for you to be the same person all the time, especially if you are running a business. The people in your charge are relying on you to display the kind of character that is necessary to produce a healthy business culture. That’s why it is imperative that you exhibit business leadership integrity.
You can’t afford to be one kind of person at the workplace and one kind of person at home. That is not integrity. That is compartmentalization. And that will sabotage your business culture.
Here are three disciplines to implement to maintain business leadership integrity and develop a healthy business culture.
I once heard someone say, “Priorities are what gets done. Everything else is just talk.” You have the time for all your priorities. You just have to make time. Not by balancing your priorities, but by integrating your life.
When I say integrating, I am talking about the opposite of compartmentalizing. When you see your life as a whole—and not the sum of parts—then you will better be able to make time for what is important. Besides, you will never be able to achieve balance in your life. Something will always outweigh everything else in your schedule. But if you integrate your life, you can make time for what is important to you.
Here’s how you can integrate your life to make time for your priorities.
When you were growing up, did you ever have a coach? Someone who pushed you past what you thought you could do? Someone who made you better than you thought you could be? Decades later, I’m sure you still remember their name.
It’s powerful to have someone believe in you, put the time in to help you improve, and rejoice with you when you succeed. It’s also humbling to have someone call you on what you’re doing wrong—but only so that you can become better.
Because of how a coach believes in you, it’s worth believing in yourself enough to invest in a coaching relationship. Here are three reasons why having a coach will help you succeed.
It’s hard to go it alone. Ecclesiastes 4:10 says it’s tough to fall down when you’re alone, because there’s no one there to pick you up again. That’s why it’s good to have an adviser circle.
An adviser circle is a group of people who have been down the same road that you are on and who want to see you succeed. They are the ones you can turn to for advice when times get tough.
Here are three qualities you should look for when forming your adviser circle.