Collaboration trumps competition

Individuality is important. It helps us to develop ourselves, discover our potential and distinguish ourselves from our environment. In modern society however there is tendency of an overemphasised individualism – of the idea to compete against others, rather than seeking out help or building something together in the spirit of collaboration.

Where does it come from?

The way of permanent growth might be embedded in Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Most of us have heard the main title of his theory “on the origin of species”, but the subtitle explains it even better: “preservation of favoured races in the struggle of life”, or in other words, the survival of the fittest. That idea, that nature selects those species, which are the toughest, or actually which are the most adopted, to let them evolve. Through this process allegedly men was evolved as well.

There are some flaws to this theory, which are however not subject of this article. It is merely put here to explain, why we might think the way we think.

It starts at a young age

From a young age on we learn to compete against one another. Every now and then there is some teamwork involved, but it does not seem to be emphasised. When we attend school, we are asked to sit quietly most of the time and listen. The teachers ask questions, we raise our hands and get rewarded for the correct answers we give. When it comes to the exams we are on our own again. Only the individual performance is evaluated. From an individual point of view it does not matter, whether you’re classmates fail or not.

It is very similar when you attend college. You might form some learning groups here and there but the educational system itself does not promote collaboration, rather focuses on the individual.

In the job it might evolve to be different. Depending on your corporate environment, you may have to learn to function as a team or a unit. But on the next higher level you are again competing against other companies in an open market.

Even beyond that our society is build on the idea of competition. Whole nations compete against one another in the struggle for political or economical power.

Competition brings advantages but is heavily overrated

The constant competition might help in enhancing specific products. To be able to compete with others, you constantly need to adopt to an ever changing environment. So it seems to add to that swiftness of evolving.

The competition also helps in quickly understanding which ideas work and which don’t. You can have great ideas in your mind, but when you put them out into the real world, driven by a competitive market, you will see really how feasible they are. That way the competition helps to sort out the good from the bad ideas.

But then again one might ask what exactly are good or bad ideas. From the current perspective good means most and foremost one thing – profitable. It does however not include what impact it might have on the life of others. Simply, because we are not raised and incentivised in our education to think about those around us. We are not raised to think about the ecological and social impact of our actions.

The danger of the current paradigm

Now what might have pushed our technological advance, does not seem to be applicable anymore in a world that is deeply connected. Our actions do impact the people next to us and our environment as well.

We are currently facing tremendous ecological challenges. The planet suffers from the exploitation of its resources, the deforestation, the pollution of oceans and natural habitats and the extinction of species.

The challenges are also quite obvious on a social level. Widespread poverty, failing states, and ongoing wars are but some of the prime examples, indicating that the current paradigm is no longer feasible.

These problems appear on such a high scale, that they cannot be solved by just one person, a company or even a nation. They have to be solved by humanity.

Collaboration trumps competition

Each of us comes with unique skills and talents to this life. Talents that can be used to solve specific problems. These skills provide possibility for great ideas and solutions. But sometimes a sort of catalyst might be needed. Another person with another skill to bring forth this aspect of yourself. This is one of the beauties of collaboration. The harmonious promotion of talents within one another.

Beyond the skills it might also be specific fields of knowledge, that alone already bring some insights, but when combined with another faculty offer an even greater understanding.

To solve the complex problems of our current society, we need to draw from different faculties and combine all sorts of talents of individuals to come up with solutions that help each of us. Projects like “the ocean cleanup” are born out of this exact process and can only be formed through the combination of, in this case, experts from the fields of engineering, maritime biology, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing and many more. 

To go fast, go alone. To gar far, go together

According to this African proverb, we need to shift to a more collaborative way of thinking. An approach that combines the faculties of all members of a group or a society to come up with the urgent needed solutions for the complex challenges of today.

And after all, isn’t it much more joyful and fulfilling to build and create something together that helps all of humanity, rather than fighting on your own and just for your own good?

Demystification of life

We live in a world overemphasising the rational aspect of things. Everything needs to be scientifically proven in order to be accepted by western society as factual reality.

Yet there is much to discover that cannot be explained. Mystical aspects of life, that fascinate and attracts us. Especially in a time of complete rationalism it serves as a welcome contrast. It awakens the child within us and makes us wonder.

Both perspectives, the one of the believer and that of the scientist, offer benefits. Currently our society over-emphasises the rational perspective, leading to a broad demystification.

How did we get here?

A milestone is this development happened in 1859 when Charles Darwin published “The Origin of Species”. In his work he argued, that the modern man was shaped through a process of evolution and directly descended from the apes.

He came to this conclusion through observation and keen study of his environment and reflected upon his observations based on his beliefs and constructs. It is therefore a valid conclusion. However it is only one possible perspective, not the ultimate truth.

Even Darwin himself knew of the flaws of his theory: “the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, [must] be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain ; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”

Despite these flaws the theory remains widely accepted.

With his scientific approach of describing the world he dawned the age of science and rationalism. An age which brought tremendous achievements for humankind, in areas of economics, gross physical medicine and our understanding of our surroundings.

But it also led to the demystification of our world. Things that were formerly described to stem from god, or created by higher forces, were suddenly rejected as being unscientific by a growing amount of people in the society.

There is more than the naked eye can see

Despite the achievements of science there still is a lot which cannot be explained by it (or only by using rather unscientific assumptions to somehow fill in the gaps). Nowadays, many are of the belief, that what is not proven scientifically cannot be existent. So in order for something to be proven scientifically it needs to be perceptive through the senses, or at least through the help of a measuring tool serving as an extension of these senses.

One thing is for sure. Only because something has not been proven scientifically, which might as well be simply the result of a missing instrument of measurement, does not mean it is not existent. In fact there is a whole universe of phenomena (subtle bodies, psychic phenomena, subtler levels of nature…) to discover that goes beyond what we chose to accept to this day.

Throughout history, there have been thousands of first hand reports from people actually experiencing these extra-sensual phenomena. The scriptures of ancient cultures are full of “stories” about angels, higher forces and technology. How can that be? Are all the stories false and the experiences people make just pure imagination?

Certainly not. There is more to it. We may just not have the right tools yet, to affirm specific phenomena or we may simply have not refined our own senses to an extent, allowing us to perceive things beyond what is called “normal”.

The moderate way

Being open to these subtle aspects can bring deep insights, if accompanied by the mind. After all why shouldn’t we use all the capacities that are given to us. Both heart and mind offer different perspectives that lead to a comprehensive understanding.

The purely scientific approach might limit and block us from gaining insights, because certain aspects have not been proven. Whereas the purely believing aspect might lead us to believe everything we hear, creating a world of pure imagination, far away from any factual reality.

Instead we should enjoy the benefits of both these approaches. Both represent extremes of the same thing. They seem to be opposite, but are in fact two sides of the same coin, just different in degree. They can therefore be reconciled and balanced, to gain the best out of both these approaches:

Demystification in explaining things rather objectively and irrespective of the personal background, allowing to credibly introduce the idea to others, who have not made the experience themselves.

The believing aspect, in experiencing that knowingness of a higher force, in the curiosity and the fascination for that what seems to be unexplainable.

Let in the mystical

The way to go is the balanced path. A healthy scepticism as well as a childish curiosity for the wonders of the world. Let in a bit of the mystic! It opens up new perspectives which in the end can only lead to a deeper understanding of specific aspects and most and foremost of the bigger picture behind the specifics, of life itself.

And isn’t it so much more interesting to grow up and live in a world where things are unsolved and still need to be discovered, rather than having everything in a predetermined box already? A world full of mystics and questions. Isn’t it so much more intriguing to investigate and explore deeper and deeper again?

Go beyond your limitations

Mankind is a species of habit. Based on our childhood, on our education and the experiences we make, we develop certain concepts to explain the world around us. This is a very helpful tool in coping with all the different impressions we perceive everyday. Especially in a world evolving so quickly. Although helpful most of the times, it can also hinder us from further growth, which is why we should always be open to rethink and adjust or even neglect our concepts.

The Safe House

In a way these concepts we form become like an actual physical construct. Like a small house, that we build around us. It offers us comfort and safety. When we interact with the world, we open the shutters and let some light in, knowing that in this house we are secure. Everything that comes in, comes through the windows, which are like lenses. They filter every information based on our experiences. It becomes quite difficult to see the world for what it is, since we always see it through these filters.

Although this house offers tremendous comfort, it also comes with limitations. Since we feel so safe in it, we tend to be reluctant to change anything about it. Often times, instead of taking the impressions in for what they are, we tend to reaffirm what we already believe to know. We don’t really search for new insights, but for a confirmation of the construct we have built. Most of the times it happens sub-consciously. We are not even aware of that process.

The safe house therefore becomes more of a limitation, something that is holding us back in our personal evolution. Some might even call it a prison!

Societal Level

This process appears not only on an individual scale, but also on a societal level. Take the subject of ancient civilisations for example. Modern science tells us, that civilisation is about 5,000 years old and that prior to that time, we were hunters and gatherers.

This is the construct that has been built, the lens through which every new information is seen.

There is however information, that strongly suggests that civilisation dates back far longer than that. Even with hundreds of out of place artefacts, scientists are not willing to change their point of view.

This gets even more evident with the Sphinx in Egypt. According to geologists, the erosion on the outside of that structure could not have been caused merely by sand and wind. Only heavy rainfalls could have caused erosion like that. How is that possible? Egypt is not really known for that kind of weather. The last time the region had strong rainfalls needed to cause such an erosion was after the last ice age, dating the Sphinx to be at least 12,000 years old.

Despite this clear evidence, contemporary egyptologists do not sway from their opinion. Since all of their theories are built on that foundation of civilisation being 5,000 years old, they are not willing to alter their point of view for it would question everything they believe in.

So instead of taking in new information to possibly gain a clearer understanding of reality and of the questions we ask, the information is merely used to reaffirm what is already there. And if it does not fit that concept it is neglected as unsubstantial. 

Step out of the prison, go beyond your limitations

For true evolution, we have to go beyond these limiting beliefs. The first step is to become aware of our constructs and beliefs. See them for what they are and try to understand where they are coming from. This will allow us to become more self aware and gain a deeper understanding of our Self. It may also help us to discover some flaws in the constructs we have created.

It would be too much to ask, and also not very practical to get rid of these constructs all at once. Instead, we can begin to question them, to alter them and to remain open for new insights. Every day offers tremendous potential for new learning experiences. And a certain degree of openness is essential, at least to widen these limiting beliefs. So that the small prison may evolve to a mansion, a whole field, a country, the planet, and one day may even evolve to the whole universe.

At this moment there are no longer any concepts at place, but pure reality for what it is. And doesn’t that sound intriguing? Isn’t that something worth striving for?

Let us therefore remain constantly open. Open for new insights, open for new perspectives, open for questioning our current beliefs to gain a deeper understanding of our Self and our surrounding.

It may be uncomfortable, surprising or even difficult at times, but employing that principle and having it in mind, will undoubtedly lead us to a deeper understanding and accelerate our growth as an individual and as a society.