“…in jazz we share, we listen to each other, we respect each other, we are creating in the moment…”1 – Herbie Hancock, Grammy award winning jazz musician
At first glance, competition and collaboration seem diametrically opposed. Competition conjures up images of winning and losing; triumph and failure. Collaboration suggests camaraderie, working side-by-side. If we’re competitors, we’re not collaborating; if we’re collaborating, we’re not competing.
But did you know that “compete” originally meant “to strive together?” It’s true. The word “compete” was originally derived from the Latin root “com” which means “with, and “petere” which means “to strive, seek, fall upon, rush at, attack”. In Late Latin “competere” came to mean “strive in common, strive after something in company with or together”2. Doesn’t that sound a lot like “collaboration?”
It turns out that as the French adopted and used the word in the Middle Ages, “compete” gradually took on the meaning “to enter or be put into rivalry with.”3 Today, it seems that there’s “friendly” competition – as in some sports or business situations – and “cutthroat competition” for scarce resources, opportunities, and “winning” in sports, business, and many other situations in life.
“I’m a fighter. That’s my culture…The longer I own this team, they’re gonna pick up more of my culture. We had ’em. We should have stepped on their throats the other night and cut their throats.” – Tilman Fertitta, owner of the Houston Rockets NBA basketball team, commenting after being eliminated in the recent NBA playoffs. 4
Rather than cutthroat competition, The Certior Group embraces the original notion of competing; that is, “to strive together” with our co-collaborators and clients to optimize wealth and wellbeing. In fact, we’ve identified collaboration as one of our core values. For us, collaboration isn’t just a nice sounding word that goes on our website and into our company literature. Collaboration is fundamental to the work that we do. Without collaboration, we can’t do the work and provide the value that we promise our stakeholders. Rather than relying solely on our own internal domain expertise, – which we certainly have in several areas – we’re invested in a process that combines not only our own expertise but also that of others. It is our belief that by striving together with other professionals, like well-performed jazz, we can best serve our clients, collaborators, and team members.
(2) Origin and etymology of compete, Online Etymology Dictionary, etymonline.com
(4) Rockets owner goes on epic rant after Warriors’ clinching Game 6, Ali Thanawalla, NBCsports.com