Intent Blog

Let’s Be Honest: Are we Competitive or Cooperative?

In the Broadest sense, there are two kinds of people, or perhaps better, two “ways of being”. Competitive or cooperative.

The Competitive Way of Being.

Competitiveness is based on a person whose fundamental intention behind what they do is about getting something out for themselves because a competitive person always wants to win, they want to assert themselves and stand out above everyone else. The competitive person sets himself/herself against others because he/she will seek what is good for himself/herself at the expense of others.

If I want something from you your ability to withhold what I want gives you power over me. I become manipulable based on the degree to which you are able to withhold what I want. This makes you dangerous to me. But also, precisely because I want something your expense, not only are you dangerous to me, but I am also dangerous to you.

A person that consistently engages with the world with mind set towards competition, that is to get what he/she wants at the expense of the other, the other becomes dangerous to the self and the self becomes dangerous to the other. The natural consequence of this is that the two will repel each other, and you end up in a situation where these two struggle to be in the same space. As soon as the person takes the intention to take or to get into an interaction, he/she repels the other and he/she is repelled by the other. With such a mindset, people become very territorial; we protect our turf. We have people under our heel and we have people on top of our head but we do not have people in the trenches with us.




The Cooperative Way of Being:

The way of cooperation is based in a person who is fundamentally here to make a contribution to others; he/she is here to give something, he/she wants to be helpful. In any situation he/she looks at the situation on the basis of the contribution required of him/her and because of this, the other is safe from him/her and he/she is safe from the other.

When you have two people that are fundamentally safe from one another you have harmony, in other words these two can coexist, they don’t repel each other, they attract each other.

The Intent of the Person

The only difference between these two ways of being is the intent of the individual. It is the deeper motive of the person that determines whether that person is either competitive or cooperative in their orientation towards others. The intent to take/get produces a competitive way of being and the intent to give/contribute produces a cooperative way of being.

The person who has the intent to take is a person who is always in win loose situations with people, he has to be the winner and the other person has to be the loser. A person who is here to give makes space for others, helps set others up in such a way that they can flourish. This, by the way, is the essence of effective leadership. It is the job of the leader to carve out a space for his/her people such that they have the opportunity to flourish and become exceptional.

Etsko Schuitema is a renowned business consultant who has authored numerous books including "Leadership: The Care and Growth Model" and "Intent: The Core of Being Human". He is the founder and leading partner of Schuitema, a business transformation consultancy operating worldwide. His business philosophy promises a progressive and sustainable approach to business that gives hope for a brighter and more harmonious future.

2 Responses to “Let’s Be Honest: Are we Competitive or Cooperative?”

By Roger Arendse - 24 January 2018 Reply

Thanks, Etsko. This invites pause from all of us and evokes an honest response.

By Bengt - 24 January 2018 Reply

So true, but too few …
(… ‘cooperatives’ get promoted):

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