Collaboration On Teams and Even With Competitors Creates Winners

Watching sports on television in my youth was a program called “Wide World of Sports.”

The shows opening had this dramatic vignette of athletic feats with sportscaster Jim Mackay commenting on “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

With the latter was a video of a downhill ski racer losing his balance and tumbling down the hill head over heels and through snow fence off the side of the course.

Every four years the Olympics brings more “thrills of victory and agonies of defeat.”

It also provides lessons for life and business.

Sunday afternoon was one of those lessons.

The Olympic woman’s bicycling road race of 85 miles/136.9 kilometers ended in exciting fashion.

The “thrill of victory” for Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands who won the Gold Medal and the agony of defeat for American Mara Abbott.

Abbott took the lead when Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands crashed with a 30-second lead to that point.

From there, Abbott led the race for all of the final 15kilometers (9.3 miles) until the last 200 meters.

Abbott was cruising along with nothing between her and the finish line except the road.

She had a 45 second lead over a pack of three European racers.

With 200 meters to go, all three passed Abbott to push her off the medal stand into a fourth place finish.

The problem for Abbott was, as Jason Gay wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “In cycling, one is often a condemned number. A racer on his or her own is usually no match for a group of riders working together, who can share the effort, take hiding from the wind and gasp of breath of relief.”

Three racers from three different countries and Olympic teams, Sweden, Italy, and the Netherlands collaborated to catch Abbott.

They used the collaborative force of aerodynamics to medal at the Olympics.

Leaving the individual, Abbott, to fight and struggle to hang on.

In sports we think it’s all about competition. And, it is.

But, in this instance, three competitors collaborated to put each other in a position to win.

And, in the end, they all won.

The competitor left to her own devices lost.

More on this lesson for small business teams next time.

For now, leave a comment below on what lessons about teamwork and collaboration (especially with competitors) you can take from this Olympic bicycling experience.

’til next time, Communicate with Power,

skip-weisman-professional speaker-small business championship coach




6 thoughts on “Collaboration On Teams and Even With Competitors Creates Winners

  1. Thomas Diersch says:

    I also watched that show “Wide World of Sports” Brings back good memories. What I took from this example is that you never know who your supporters will be. You need to be aware of the possible benefits of teamwork, you need to be able to put aside your differences and focus on the goal, the objective and you need to be aware when you can turn that collaboration to your benefit. “No man is an island” in work, play and sport.

  2. Skip Weisman says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. Sometimes you have to look deeper, more broadly and creatively to find those areas where they collaboration is of benefit. This is especially true when collaborating with competitors, but they are there and when worked on can be tremendously effective for raising both to greater levels. Case in point, the three competitive bikers probably would never have caught Abbott on their own. Working together put all 3 in a position to medal and all three had a chance at Gold they never would have had otherwise.

    Thanks, again for commenting here. Please come back again and add value to our discussions.

  3. Skip Weisman says:

    Thanks, Simita. I’m not sure how amazing it is. It’s really common sense. There are few true competitors really because everyone is different and different people/personalities, etc. will connect with some and not others. Everyone does things slightly different and one way may be the better fit for someone vs. another. It’s about having an abundance mindset vs. a scarcity mindset. I’ll publish more about this on Thursday, so look for that next article. thank you for being inspired to leave a comment here, please come back continue to add value to my conversations here.

  4. Skip Weisman says:

    Thanks for the reinforcing comment. It seems many of us understand this to be true, yet, why is it so many feel threatened by co-workers, colleagues and competitors and fail to embrace the collaboration and providing opportunities for others to success along with us? Granted some will succeed at an accelerated rate to us, and some less so, but all would be so much farther ahead working together, yet some resist, retreat and see only a zero-sum, you win-I lose outcome?


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