May 23, 2023

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“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the best thing we must strive for today, begins where the competition leaves off.” 
-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Our team has been studying Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game.  One of the key forces that he speaks to is the benefit of having a worthy rival to compete against, to push you, and to motivate you to do better. As we all know, the media loves to highlight rivals in the world of sports, politics, and business, and many communities also fall into this trap, comparing themselves city to city or state to state. Make no mistake, it’s certainly true that comparing yourself to the competition certainly has value. After all, it allows you to contrast your business, organization, team, city, or state to others, and that can create urgency, motivate teams, activate investors, and it certainly provides perspective. However, this never-ending game of comparison can lead to incrementalism, complacency, and tunnel vision while others look inward to innovate, create opportunities, and define new paradigms for success.

In the book Beyond Disruption the authors observe that “what we ultimately achieve through our imagination and digitally enabled power, however, is dependent on the kind of problems we set out to solve and the kind of opportunities we set out to create.” This prompts two questions that all community leaders should seek to answer and to revisit often on your development journey. What kind of opportunities are you really seeking to create? What problems are we setting out to solve?

I hope this motivates us to think about your worthy rivals this week, to seek out those that push us to be better, but to do so with perspective and without becoming insecure and paranoid. I hope this also motivates us to pause and to consider that if we are burning all our resources and energy to gain an inch, we could instead be pursuing untapped markets and unexplored opportunities that would improve lives and create new opportunities for the people we serve.

Let’s have a great week, lift each other up, and move forward together.

Kenny McDonald