Don't Be Afraid Of The CompetitionFor the past couple of weeks, the London Olympics have been the main topic on most people’s lips.

I’m proud of the success of the London Olympics, from the point of view of the number of medals won by Team GB, and also for the wonderful experience shared by all who attended as participants or spectators.

However, apart from going out to watch the Olympic flame on its journey down the River Thames from Hampton Court, and catching the Opening Ceremony and the Closing Ceremony on TV, our house has been a predominantly Olympic-free zone.

I’m just not a sports fan. And what’s more, I’m not all that keen on competition – and, after all, that’s what the Olympics is all about. Or is it?

There have been some great stories of athletes beating world records and their own personal best performances. But the story that touched my heart was not about winning medals or beating records.


It was the story of 17 year-old Meghan Vogel, who helped a fellow competitor across the line in the 3,200 meter run. Admittedly, she was in last place – perhaps if it had been the difference between winning a gold or silver medal, she might have behaved differently.

Nevertheless, Arden McMath, who was one place in front of her, was struggling to complete the final 20 meters – so when Meghan caught up with her, rather than overtaking her, she put Arden’s arm around her shoulder and helped her to the finish line. Not only that – Meghan pushed Arden over the finish line ahead of herself, and finished last.

Like I said, Meghan was in last place anyway, but she could easily have passed by her competitor in order to get the best possible time for her own race. But she didn’t. Instead she behaved in a “sportsmanlike” manner. She behaved with humanity.


All too often, in business, I hear people talking about “driving the competition into the ground”, or being afraid of the competition taking work away. I know times are tough at the moment – but I still believe there is enough work to go round, if we behave with humanity, instead of trying to undercut our competitors at every opportunity.

Price cutting merely reduces the perceived value of what we do – and in the long run, everyone will suffer. The suppliers will suffer, because the market will settle on a lower price level in the future. And the customers will suffer because, if the price drops too low, then the quality of the product or service also drops, to make it viable for the supplier.


At times like this, it’s worth looking at your competitors as potential allies with complementary skills that will make your proposition more attractive to your clients. In times of recession and economic downturn, it’s the suppliers who come up with creative solutions that will succeed.

Think “co-operation“. Instead of competing with other people in your field, how can you come up with ways to help each other across the finishing line?

9 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Competition

  1. Thanks Julia – you have real vision – I think you are right – the future belongs to those who know the value and power of collaboration – love it Nick

  2. This is such a great example of your ‘out of left field’ insight which is so helpful to your colleagues and clients Julia. thank you.

  3. Julia Barnickle

    Thanks for that, Nick! I’ve always been more interested in co-operation / collaboration – and so many positive things have come out of having that attitude.

  4. Julia Barnickle

    Thank you, Martine. It’s funny – it seems like perfectly natural behaviour to me!! 🙂

  5. Interesting article Julia. I’m half in agreement with you.

    Conversely, I was glued to the Olympics, which was quite unexpected as until the started I could have taken or left it. I don’t know whether it was Team GB’s success, or because they we’re in London, or something else… but I was hooked. Which is unusual for me because too am not really a sporting spectator. I love doing sport, but am not really a fan of watching others, especially on TV.

    With the Olympics though I couldn’t help but be in awe of the level of commitment and dedication of the athletes to reach that level. To commit fully for 4 years, training and pushing themselves to the absolute limit, in the hopes of winning a medal. Kudos to every single one of them, and the paralympic athletes yet to compete, I’m inspired by their focus and total commitment!

    As you mention, I too am a big fan of cooperation and collaboration, but I also believe there is great value in competition too. It can help us strive to be the best we can be and help us push beyond limits. Competition is not bad, what’s important is how we view it and our relationship with it. When you operate from a scarcity or lack perspective, competition can be unhealthy and detrimental to your business. However from a different perspective it can be a really positive influence.

    So I guess my take on it is twofold, both how can viewing other people in your field as allies really serve you, AND how can competing with them in a positive way help you to raise your game and deliver and even better product and service to your customers/clients…
    Kyle Newman recently posted..5 Essential Steps to a Successful New YearMy Profile

  6. Julia Barnickle

    You make some good points, Kyle. Thank you.

    I totally agree that the commitment and dedication shown by the Olympic athletes is inspiring, and I applaud their efforts. I suppose I’m just concerned that competition (especially in business) often comes from a sense of lack, or scarcity – which, as you say, can be unhealthy.

    I tend to be competitive with myself, rather than with other people, and that pushes me to always strive to do better / raise my game. I don’t need to be or do better than anyone else – just better than my past self!

  7. Actually, I do believe in competition – against myself, learning and growing. But in business. As a coach I don’t see competition because every single one of us coaches brings different life experiences to the table.
    Sue Plumtree recently posted..What does it mean to be present in your own life?My Profile

  8. Julia Barnickle

    Exactly – and I think that’s true of any solo entrepreneur or small business. Thanks Sue – it sounds like you and I are singing from the same page!

  9. […] based on the belief that there’s a lot of competition out there, and that if you don’t grab all the clients you can, before your competitors grab them, […]

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