I was just sitting in my office today thinking about the saying "Collaboration Over Competition"...it has been my motto since the summer and it plays in my head constantly! I have google searched images for t-shirts, I have purchased stickers off of Etsy. It is truly the epitome of what my purpose is. As leaders, we are natural born competitors...I bet if I polled all of my colleagues I would find that they were in some type of competitive activity.
If you know me, you know I spent my adolecent years playing sports, primarily basketball. Basketball was my life from ages 5-18. Every weekend, I was in a gym either watching my parents referee the game, or playing it myself. I am a self proclaimed competitor. Even to this day, if you challenge me, I will claim victory before we start and I will most likely win or burst my butt trying! I can recall wanting to be the best at everything even down to how I read aloud. I can recall, I was in 1st grade being called to read aloud because my reader voice was so great. HS spanish class..."let Joyce read! She sounds so good!" yep, I rolled my Rs the best! That has not completely changed I still innately want to be great at what I do, I just see things a little differently now.
A lot of times, the unhealthy competition between districts, schools, and leaders becomes overwhelming. It is not the idea of being the best, it is the pressure of being the best that makes the job a little tougher. You can see it from left to right, top to bottom, competition is everywhere. As AP's, many are trying to be the best AP in order to be chosen for the next Principalship. Makes sense being that principalships only come when that position opens and there aren't many each school year. I get it! However, my mindset is 'we cannot do this job alone and we only have each other to lean on' so what are we going to do about it?
A little competition never hurt anyone, however...the only way we can TRULY make a difference is through collaboration:
"If you want to be incrementally better, be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better be collaborative."
True collaboration involves building relationships with those who can understand, appreciate, motivate, and bring something to your life that increases your knowledge in the tasks that you do. Whether that be collaborating on a project, a business venture, a problem, a solution, there is so much information we have to share with others.
At this point in my life, having gone 4 years as a school administrator, I have learned quite a bit, have experienced things that others may have not and want to share. However, my reality still is, I have SO much to learn.
Through my own growth, I have realized that the only way I can do this job, WE can do this job, is if we collaborate with one another and share ideas. I have a lot of ideas but some of my best have come from my experiences with someone else.
Collaboration takes vulnerability. You have to put yourself out there and be willing to show that you may not have the best idea or know it all...and honestly, at this point, that is OK! This Pandemic has shown us so much about ourselves and our jobs that realistically, we ALL have a lot of growing to do. We could NOT have gotten through last year and the start of this year without each other. The nuances of what this year has entailed, I could NOT have made it without the help of others OR the inspiration to help others.
It is time to COLLABORATE and stop the unhealthy competing with one another! The competition where you hold all the good stuff, the stuff that works, to yourself! We should not be in this to try to be better than the rest and tear each other down. When you are "number one" that means you are leaving someone behind. I did not get into education for this...We have to pick each other up and run the race together. Holding each others' hands and motivating one another to keep running even when one of us is on our last leg, barely standing, bruised up, scraped up...keep running!
There is so much we truly have no idea about so if someone is willing to share their ideas that worked for them, or hear what you have to say because it worked for you, then you should collaborate! One of my biggest gratifications is when someone asks me my opinion or for help. I love being there to help others figure things out. It is not about either of us being the best, it is about all of us being amazing. We also have to ask for help...!! It is ok to ask. for. help. The idea of competition or I know everything in education really needs to end. We should ALL be doing what is best for ALL of us. There shouldn't be a BEST...that mindset is stifling and we should really move past it. We are in this to impact children and make a difference right?
That is my vision...Collaboration OVER Competition! Let's go!