Books / Current Issues / Inspiration

Helping competitors for the greater good.

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Taking a break from the academic papers strewed all over my desk, I continued reading ‘The Sustainability Transformation’ by sustainability expert, Alan AtKisson. His sixth chapter aptly titled, ‘Make Money, Do Good… and Save the World’ is an inspiration that we need collaboration, not competition.

His story opened up in Australia in the 2000s when a potential client approached him. With his lofty ideals for a sustainable society, he ultimately referred that client to a fellow competitor.

Why did he do that? He explained that there is no standard format for good sustainable management practices. Whether a plan is a success or a failure depends on variable factors in the region: demographics, geography, economics, politics etc. His company’s method was more suited for highly mixed processes that required collaboration between technical and non-technical people. The client’s requirements were different.

If he wanted to, he could have won the project and got the financial benefits. But, for a high price. His method would not have been very successful, and the blame would fall on sustainable processes being impractical.

I liked this personal story of his. It showed us that equanimity is much-needed in this competition-driven society. Of course, we do need competition to drive innovation and the economy. Globalization made that happen. It lowered boundaries for more economic opportunities but, with more competition. Oh, so much more competition

But, in situations like the above, or in my personal life – in my courses where students are competing every day for good grades, sometimes I feel that the drive to win over others makes us lose our focus on what really is important.
As students, the fact of life and the potency of money are constantly drummed in our minds by our lecturers, our parents, and our peers. So much so, that this endless struggle to be the best and to get the highest paying job has consumed most of a typical student’s life.

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There’s nothing bad about money. Money makes life comfortable (up to a point. A study revealed that money brings happiness till $10,000. After reaching that peak, people gradually become more unhappy). But, to me, I want to have a “Why?” in that chase for money. To use money as a means to an end, not an end itself.

And, really, what is money? in AtKisson’s own words: “Money is debt”.

Money doesn’t make everyone happy (there’s always someone paying a hefty price). A peaceful, just and harmonious environment with abundant food and clean water, however, usually does.




One thought on “Helping competitors for the greater good.

  1. Pingback: ‘Believing Cassandra’, an excerpt on sustainability « The surfing butterfly

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