Competition vs. Collaboration

Everything we do has a cause and effect. Nobody knows this better than plants! They have this distinctive way of operating that delicately dances between competition and collaboration.

Decision-Making Skills: Intuition When It Comes to Competition vs. Collaboration

Scientists may have a difficult time defining it, but plants have a unique  intelligence. From memory to decision-making skills, kin use these abilities to decide on a course of action. 

Some would say that this concept is a little woo woo, then again I could easily show you why it’s biomimicry. Ultimately, what really matters is that the plant kingdom has an innate knowledge. It’s a knowledge that we can parallel in the way we create, communicate, and approach our businesses to our highest benefit. 

In particular, kin have a super intuitive nature when it comes to the concept of competition vs collaboration. They intuit what effect this may have on a species’s functionality and survival. 

Operating in an ecosystem means plants recognize that every transaction encountered can be carried out in peaceful way. Every transaction occurs in an eco friendly, efficient way that transcends the individual or small borders around them. So choosing to become involved in a competition with another species is not a decision to be taken lightly

But with humans…

In the human business world, competition is the one of the predominant driving forces of a company. It’s what makes the business world go round, or so we’ve been told. And so we analyze our competitors, believing we must be better than them or even eliminate them to succeed in our fields. Ugh… how consuming!!

You might think of competition as a necessary evil to survive in business. But when you compare the human view of competition to the natural world’s view, that’s actually a huge misconception. What’s coming to light finally is that this is the view that sees you distracted from your business goals and spending more time and resources responding to competition, than focusing on collaboration. 

In the plant world, entering into a competition is only a route chosen if there is no alternative. Take that in… it is not the default, it is the exception!

Why is competition, not collaboration, so rare? 

Because kin realize that giving energy to your competition is both risky and exhausting, and the intensity required to compete with another species means it’s not always an appropriate course of action. Especially, if you are unsure of the outcome

For a plant to enter into a relationship with another species that is competitive rather than mutually beneficial, the outcome must be worth the energy. Establishing patterns, relationships, and behaviors that serve long term priorities and goals however, are definitely worth it. Competition for competition sake is simply not something that plants can be bothered with! 

The focus in the natural world is communication and relationship building to ensure an excellent understanding of available resources and to attract what one needs in ways that create win-win relationships. This is believed to be the most desired way to create long lasting survival and evolution. 

This is sage advice…

It’s in this way that you can model the plant world to build your own businesses. 

By choosing to base goals and strategies on cooperation not competition and being selective as to when competition is used, you can model these decision making strategies. Whereas, kin may choose to use colour or smells or chemical signatures to attract the resources they need. In business, your choices may revolve around your branding, the incentives you offer, or creating a relationship that’s mutually valuable between you and a perceived competitor to benefit your client. 

Connecting with the plant kingdom can help you to enhance your understanding of how kin thinks—a crucial step before you can implement plant behavior into your world. 

Adaptability and Harmony in Kin

When you do this, you start to understand and recognize kin’s patterns and behaviors. You see kin’s ability to be both sessile and adaptable to the environment. To weigh up energy vs risk means kin can work harmoniously with the changing conditions encountered in the environment, rather than against it. 

If you can do this and subsequently change your perspective on competition to see it as an optional expenditure of energy, time, and resources, it will allow you to concentrate on the growth aspect of your business much more efficiently. In a way, that means you approach your business with a resilience that allows for long term operation. 

Consider these natural examples…

For example, consider how a plant in a high traffic area, like one that may be growing in a crack in the sidewalk, makes kiself visible in order to not get trampled. Ki may use color or have a trait like being edible to ensure ki’s seen and considered valuable. Or like the Dandelion who spreads lots of seeds in a quick period of time with only the slightest puff of wind, you can consider how you could disseminate your business message to ensure your business is seen in the most high traffic areas with little energy and cost. 

This may be piggybacking off some other element that already exists, like a book writing client of mine that was able to weave his new book campaign into a speech he already had organized on the ToastMasters platform. In this way, he was able to advertise his new book to more people, without creating an additional individual campaign that would have taken lots of energy and resources. 

The Wisdom of the Plants Shines Through Yet Again

Plants teach us that it’s important to take the time to observe and set your goals so that you can then decide on a strategy that uses your energy and resources wisely, which in turn will  allow you to thrive in your business without being distracted or burnt out by focusing unnecessarily on competition where you don’t need to. 

It’s all about saving where you can and choosing risk where you need to. 

Sometimes this might take combining strategy with some trial and error. It also may mean being adaptable to letting go of the ways in which you’ve carried out business until now in order to continue growing. Or it may even mean collaborating with other businesses historically thought of as competitors to form mutually beneficial relationships that benefit both of you! 

You may remember a little while ago I told you a great story about a colleague telling me how she has this beautiful apple tree in her yard that was thriving. 

Until… a tree from the neighboring yard grew taller and blocked the sunlight ki received. 

The tree, not having access to a valuable resource needed to produce ki’s best quality fruit, of course stopped producing for a time. But… ki continued to grow. The tree changed the direction ki grew in, growing branches in the new direction of the sun, curving around the span of the larger tree to access this missing resource. In the process, branching out to become even more beautiful.

Although the tree did stop producing fruit for a while, it wasn’t permanent. What ki did was: pause, evaluate the new circumstances, and lower production to conserve energy while working out a new game plan.  

Growth and Production After Reflection

Once the tree started growing in a new direction, ki started producing delicious apples again. Rather than see the bigger tree as competition and take an action to overpower it or give up and die back, which would most likely be the human reaction, the apple tree realized that all plants have a role and therefore worked with these new circumstances. You could say ki pivoted strategy to adapt and begin to thrive once more. 

In the case of your business, when competition appears as it regularly will, you can use it as an opportunity to step back and look at your genius zone. How are you unique and giving your clients the best service (the same way the apple tree probably focused on giving the leaves that did get sunlight the best of ki’s resources) while you decide on how to pivot and thrive! 

Shifting your perspective on competition will allow you to stop spending a lot of time in your business reacting to competition and getting distracted from your true goals. After all, you started in your business for a purpose and focusing on the areas that help you achieve that purpose is the important thing, right?

So, sound off. Is competition existent in your business? 

I’d love to hear, how do you view competition in your business? Is it something you spend a lot of time and energy on combating or do you choose to only focus on it when it’s a direct threat to you and therefore worth the energy? 

Tigrilla is a Nature-Inspired Leadership Mentor and World Ambassador for the Plant Kingdom. She helps leaders achieve personal and professional success by integrating nature-inspired innovation in order to bring meaning to Life and make an impact with work.

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