Competition vs. Co-opetition

I know what you’re thinking.

This is a stupid title. Whatever is Co-opetition, anyway? We already have a word for it, don’t we? Cooperation.


But the word is fraught. It sounds weak, passive, feminine (God forbid!). Not at all like its vibrant brother, Competition.

Competition connotes Power, Vigor, Action!

Competition is about winning! It’s about sorting the wheat from the chaff. It’s about hierarchy. One on top. The rightful heir.

In modern history, it’s the one with the most bucks. The Big-L Leader to all the rest of you followers.

Competition is good. Healthy. In fact, we often see these two words together–Healthy Competition.

Because pitting human beings one against the other makes us stronger, resistant, invincible. It’s the Immunological Model of Health. And conventional wisdom says it works equally well with humans as it does with viruses. Bombard the system with (petty) aggressions, and pretty soon you will have created the Best. The Number One. The Immortal.

And isn’t this what we all want? To live forever!

Then, you have cooperation. She’s the softer sister. Good for the United Nations and other cuddly organizations. But not for Super-powers. Super-powers don’t futz around with cooperation. What would be the point?

We need to send a Strong message.

Vote Yes on Strength!

Yielding is for pussys (both literally and figuratively)!

We want Traffic Lights. Hard. Firm. Unequivocal. Uncooperative.

None of this 4-way-stop nonsense. Too confusing.

Cooperation gets us nowhere.


So Co-opetition.

Co-opetition says we can both be excellent.

Think about Breaking 2, the Nike challenge to beat the two-hour marathon.

Three contenders, Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese, and Lelisa Desisa, along with 30 all-star pacers, all ran together to try and test the theory that there is a limit to how fast man can run.

Nike could have chosen to run the test with just one runner, the best runner (Eliud Kipchoge until that point), but instead they chose to run three. Because running with three, makes each one better.

And it did.

Whereas Nike did not break the two-hour barrier, two out of the three contenders broke their own personal records, and came within 25 seconds of their goal.

Co-opetition says we can both be excellent.

Co-opetition says my excellence does not diminish your excellence.

In fact, my excellence may be a good match for your excellence.

And together we can be better.

But not if you try to take my legs out from under me.

Because it’s not necessary.

Because I am soft.

And yielding.

And anything you throw at me will boomerang off into empty space.

Or be absorbed.

As rain to earth.

Food for growth.

Because that is the way of nature.


So your light doesn’t diminish mine. Although it might be transformed.


Some basic laws of Co-opetition:

  1. I exist and you exist.

  2. I am brilliant and you are brilliant.

  3. I am the rock and you are the diamond.

  4. We are both carbon.

  5. Born of time.

  6. And might.

  7. Indestructible.


If you enjoyed reading this post and would like to get more like this delivered directly to your inbox Click Here

Categories: Reflections

Tags: , ,

3 replies

  1. This is beautiful and so en pointe in our present day social climate. I win/ you win. Ice cream for all.

Leave a Comment