Columnists Features

Do not eliminate competitors


I REMEMBER throughout my secondary school days, my grandmother used to advise me not to lend out any of my textbooks or assist any pupil from my class who needed my assistance academically.
She did this in good faith (as I later came to understand), she used to tell me that if I help others, they were going to pass and I was going to fail. This to me meant that she was implying I stop helping other pupils because they were going to suck all the knowledge out of me. I used to make fun of her for this.
I have since completed secondary school, graduated from college and worked for prestigious organisations. But like they say, ‘what an elderly person can see while sitting down, a young person cannot even while standing on the summit of the highest mountain.’
I have come to see and understand what my grandmother had been trying to teach me all along.
We live in difficult times where people thrive on the pain and misfortunes of other people. We have embraced a way of thinking that for one to excel, someone somewhere has to lose out. We live in times where the strongest survive and the weakest get taken for granted. Unfortunately, this currently exists in governments, corporate institutions, non-governmental organisations, schools, marriages and other relationships.
My wise grandmother was just trying to make me aware of something that she has learnt in her many years of existence; that I can give all I can to help someone but are we meeting half way? And indeed, going back to my secondary school days, all the pupils I used to assist academically never used to come through for me in those subjects they understood very well but where I needed help.
In colleges and universities it’s the same; some students have this misguided principle that they are all racing for one job after they graduate. There are a lot of opportunities out there, you need to have the best results but it is also important that your colleagues get good grades too. You are going to need networks and, who knows? Those friends you want to block might just be the ones to open doors for you to excel in your career.
In businesses, most people like ‘eliminating the competition’ by making it hard for the competitors to do business through ‘backdoor’ tactics.
It does not have to be this way, every business that has been set up to provide services that add value to the lives of the customers knows that it is important to provide a wide range of services to give customers a variety of options.
These businesses will appreciate competition for enabling them to work on their toes and look at many ways of adding quality to their products or services to keep customers and get new business.
Why can’t we all think win-win for once? A business wins by making huge profits through providing high quality goods and services in a healthy competitive environment and customers win by having a variety of services and products.
Some companies have monopolised their industries such that; being the sole providers of certain services, most people do not get the real value for their money. They know that even when customers complain, they have nowhere else to go, they will come back. But this does not have to be the case.
Competition is healthy for business and customers too. Stay ahead of the competition but do not ‘eliminate’ the competitors.
The author is a motivational speaker, writer and behavioural change activist.

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