Mindfulness Moments: Cooperate or compete at work place?

A good friend recently asked  – how do I cooperate with my team members to achieve the team’s goal while simultaneously competing with them to get a better performance review rating for myself?

This seems like a dichotomy, doesn’t it? But it need not be. Both are two distinct and unconnected opportunities for self improvement only. Let me explain.


Do I love performance reviews or what? [Source]

Performance reviews are fundamentally nothing more than a charade. But they do provide one use. They offer a rational platform for allocating the meagre salary increase budget among employees.

  • Employee performance is a continuous thing. So, a good manager must monitor, guide, coach, strengthen or appreciate employee’s performance on a continuous basis.
  •           A good leader knows his or her people better than their mothers do and cares for them even more  – Sathya Sai Baba

Performance reviews in most companies are done annually. They lack the immediate and continuous care an employee can benefit from. Only when the employee is well cared for, will there be performance excellence in the true sense of the term.

  • My promotions, transfers, demotions and termination are done not based so much on annual performance reviews but on the organization’s changing needs and the preferential likes/dislikes of the boss.

The fact of the matter is, I can control only my performance – not its review.

  • How well do I perform, really?  I must seek ways to improve my performance continuously. To do that, I need to compete with myself, not with others.
  • “Win from within” says Usain Bolt, the Olympic champion.
  • Work done well is a step in peace. Yogah karmasu kowsalam – Bhagavad Gita [2.50]

When I do my job to the best of my ability and not be concerned with how the result turns out, how can I not be but peaceful and happy?.

Instead of dreading the annual performance review,  I can train myself to – however weird it may sound – actually welcome it. I can accept the comments that have merit in improving my ability and reject the rest without a bother. And then move on to continue doing the best job I can, for my own peace of mind.


Is this me? Really? [Source]

A bad or unfair performance review, especially one with a difficult-to-get along boss, can be unsettling. If this happens, it is time to change the boss or the company. Or go inwards to “win from within”.  Performance reviews, both bad and good, are nothing more than passing clouds. What is constant is my inherent ability to inspire myself to continuously learn and do better, without being agitated about the results. The results come of their own accord  – no point in sweating about it.

In short, performance reviews are not worth losing sleep over.



Some of us love team work, don’t we?[Source]

Team work, on the other hand, is a gold mine of opportunities to develop the skills of togetherness and empathy with others.  How do I harmonize the different opinions, working styles and personality pulls among the participants? How do I learn to let go of my own desire to control results and others’ behavior? How do I neutralize time pressure? How do I navigate through the varying levels of competencies and contributions among the team members? How do I develop and sustain a balanced mind-set in the face of provocation? And so on… Team work offers myriad mindfulness moments to expand my heart, to care for and serve others.

Truly, no man is an island. Man thrives only in the spirit of “togetherness”. A favorite vedic prayer of mine exhorts this truth:

May we live together. May we grow together. May we achieve great things together. May we shine in the resplendence of togetherness. May there be no disharmony among us.

saha naavatu. saha nau bhunaktu, saha veeryam karavaavahai. tejasvinaavadheetamastu. maa vidvishaamahai.


“Togetherness” – Part of one body [Source]

When I work in a team with this spirit of “togetherness”, regardless of whether others approach it the same way or not , then I’m able to cooperate with others in a natural way, much like the flow of a gentle breeze. Then the differences in the working styles, personalities and opinions of the team members impact me less. In addition to enthusiastically fulfilling my responsibilities, I’m then able to truly work for everyone’s success, not just mine.

When everyone in the team fulfills his/her role well in this spirit of togetherness, results can be fantastic indeed.


Wow! Team work at its best. [Source]

Life is largely team work only. If I engage life with the attitude of “togetherness”, then it is a peaceful step I’ve taken.  Team work is the “24 x7 fitness club” in my life to develop my mental muscles, expand my heart and become better at being “together”.

So, do I cooperate or compete at work place? I should do both. Not only at work place but throughout life itself.

  • Cooperate with others to help them succeed.
  • Compete with myself to do better.

2 thoughts on “Mindfulness Moments: Cooperate or compete at work place?

  1. Thank you very much for taking the time to write and publish this. What a great write up, packed with sensible practices that will help me flourish in my professional carrier and most importantly be at peace.

    It kindled my thoughts to revisit and remind myself on the attitude and approach that I should adopt in a work place.

    Your blog reinstated in me the fact that a “Good Performance Review or a Bad one” ; it really doesn’t matter. What matters is how I deal with it. I guess this applies to not only a performance review but any situation that unfolds in my life. It also reminded me of this shloka in Bhagavad Gita [ 6.5]

    Befriend you mind, have a lot of Self Confidence and never look down upon your own self.

    uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ nātmānam avasādayet
    ātmaiva hyātmano bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

    I also want to mention the power of the prayer ( Saha Navavatu) by sharing an anecdote. 10 years ago I had to deal with a heavily confronting team member. Every team meeting used to be a night mare as I dreaded when this person will pounce on me. Listening to another friends advice I started chanting this prayer before every meeting and you won’t believe this challenging person started to become cooperative. Obviously I continue this practice ever since then.

    Finally I would like to share something that I learned. The word ” Compete” is often used as a battle language. You may tend to project yourself up by pushing others down; staying a cut above the rest. But this is grossly incorrect. The word has its root in Latin “Competere” – “Com” + “petere” which mean to come together. So when we compete with others we should actually strive together for everyone to improve. If others improve and feel good, then it will reflect on us automatically.

    I apologize if the comment is too long


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