What if a country’s highest achievement was measured by cooperation? What if the concept of the country was defined not by competition, but by making sure that everyone had enough to live on? Cooperative Democracy would allow people to move forward together, and instead of rewarding the competitive spirit, it would reward the cooperative spirit.
Raising Up instead of Pushing Down
In a competitive atmosphere, people aren’t just fighting to be there best. They’re also fighting to keep others from doing better. When Tonya Harding’s husband Jeff Gillooly hired a hitman to whack Nancy Kerrigan in the knee, it wasn’t so that Tonya could be a better skater. It was to eliminate the competition. Competitors tear there competition down through trash talk, deception, and other nefarious tactics that are often outside the moral compass of most people, and sometimes, against the rules.
Competition also encourages people to pull each other down. Like crabs in a bucket, rather than letting one person rise to the top on his or her own strength, people actively work to keep each other at the same level. Some people consider it all a part of the game or life, but what if it weren’t.
What if when we saw someone able to do better, we helped them rise to the top? And by the same token, rather than kicking someone when they were down, we helped to pick them up? This cooperative spirit could do more to lift us, as people and as a country, than the competitive atmosphere we now face. We’ve seen it happen before, with competitors linking arms to cross the finish line in a Special Olympics commercial, or one racer stopping to help someone who has fallen or gotten hurt. It can happen, and it’s in our better natures to do so. We just have to put the right system in place to encourage it.
Improved Problem-Solving and Creativity
Harry S. Truman said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.” The problem is that with the credit comes the money, fame, and power. For someone who already has that, maybe it doesn’t matter, who gets the credit. However, for most people credit for accomplishments is essential in advancement in the workplace, higher salary, and more perks. If someone wants that corner office, then he or she better be sure to get credit for the work that he or she did. Some people steal the credit from their employees or those they supervise.
In a cooperative society, accomplishments wouldn’t mean as much to the individual as it would to the group. Everyone on the team would get the same credit. Everyone in the society would get the benefits of the work. Truman was right. Creativity happens best when there’s an atmosphere of cooperation rather than competition, which means great things can be accomplished. Competition creates a tension that can lead to silo building and stifle creativity. One person could be holding the key to advancement but won’t give it up for fear of it being stolen. The idea dies with him or her and society is left without the full benefit of that person’s wisdom, intelligence, intelligence and ingenuity.
None of Us Is as Smart as All of Us
Ken Blanchard is credited with saying, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” Basically, when a group of people cooperate, they can do more than someone who is smarter than each individual in the group. Hackers work together because it improves their abilities to get results. Relying on just one person to come up with a solution is problematic and dangerous.
When we work together, we bring our strengths and experiences to the table to create a stronger mindset and potential for better solutions that encompass the entirety of the problem. With improved cooperation, we can create solutions that work for everyone rather than just for those who come up with answers.
Get the Best from Everyone
Competition creates stress and stokes aggressive behavior. When the winner takes all and nothing is left for the loser, the losers in a competitive society suffer degradation in other areas of their lives. They become poorer, less motivated, and learn helplessness. When people cooperate to lift each other, society rises as well. The idea that a rising tide lifts all boats is a false comparison in a competitive society. There is no great tide that lifts everyone; there is only the advantage taken of the situation.
With cooperation, when one person rises, he or she will be stepping in to help others as well. When everyone begins to work at their peak, people will be happier, healthier, and richer.
Taking Advantage of the System
Yes, there will be those who coast on the system minimums. There are people who just want to get by. They’d rather sit on the couch and live with whatever the minimum has to offer. These people may have learned helplessness – no matter what they do, they can’t get ahead. They see a light at the end of the tunnel and get laid off, or have to pay an unexpected banking fee, or get ill and have no job to come back to. There are some who just don’t want to work; let them take advantage of the system. It doesn’t keep you down unless you choose to focus on it. Unless you’re that person, in which case, the rest of us will be ready to help you find the kind of life that is at least comfortable and without the worry of food, clothing, housing, health care or education.
When we all cooperate and use our strengths to build a society that helps its people, we all live better lives. That isn’t the society we have now, but it is the society we could have if we choose to recognize humanity over market and create ways for individuals to realize their potential rather than get locked into mediocrity.