Collaborative Competitors


My favorite part of watching the American Ninja Warrior (ANW) competition on television is the attitude. From the contestants to the commentators to the families, everyone cheers for everyone. The attitude is centered in abundant thinking: if one does well, we all do well. If one falls, there is abundant support for them to rise back up. There is always the next obstacle, the next year of competition, the next competitor. (If you have never seen it, it is on NBC).

A recent segment highlighted the relationship of two extremely accomplished competitors who are well known to those who follow the show. The two had started training together, and each wondered what they could possibly teach the other. Their level of mutual admiration was very high. Yet, the one who had more experience with the sport, noted that the other displayed a better strategy or technique for certain obstacles. That individual admired the stamina of the other and learned from him how to save energy. They mutually learned from each other, and the result was that each placed higher in the competition than they had before they spent the time to train together.

The story made me think about relationships at work and in business. What attitude do we take when a friend is promoted? Are we really in competition with a colleague? Do we feel like we are all on the same team? Would we have more success in developing business if we worked together, learned from each other, and shared in the results?

What makes collaboration with competitors work?

  1. Individual mindset. Each individual needs to start with a mindset that is open to learning.
  2. Self-confidence. Individuals need to be confident in what they know and what they don’t know.
  3. Trust. Trust must be present so that each has no fear of showing their weaknesses. The competitors on ANW fail very publicly by falling off the equipment. Some failure in business situations can also be very public. When trust is present, it is easier to admit to errors and brainstorm about how to do better next time.
  4. Listening. Listening is an art. It is important to give equal time to each other so that both parties hear new ideas.
  5. Determining the common goal. Ask each other how collaboration can be mutually beneficial.
  6. Trying new approaches. Not every approach will work, and collaboration often combines the old with the new.
  7. Practicing and tweaking for better performance. Practice is vital in every field. Practice makes for better preparation and execution.

If you are not sure what I am talking about, watch American Ninja Warriors.

For more information contact Mary Balistreri, The Mindful Business Coach at

Published by Mary Balistreri

Mary Balistreri offers a variety of coaching and professional development services to individuals and organizations focused on harnessing strengths to develop more business. Mary’s approach is goal driven, focusing on measurable results and developing actionable plans to move past obstacles that hold individuals, teams, and organizations back from executing on the plan. Mary offers expertise in business development, team building, and leadership development coupled with strategies to improve conversational and emotional intelligence to support clients moving toward their goals and aspirations.

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