An Archive of Growth?
elementary

Do You Perform Better When You’re Competing or When You’re Collaborating?

Ugh, neither. I work best alone, and undisturbed by what others are up to.

Competing, 99% of the time, leaves me absolutely cold. I have no desire to. No motivation. This has made team mates and teachers alike go mad.

In sixth grade, I took a dislike to my math teacher. I stopped doing my math homework. Everything else I did, I would just forget to do the math. So naturally, she punished me with detention. Fine. I sat through detention after detention without complaint. I had earned it. Still wasn’t making me do my homework, though.

We had assigned seats, and each island of four tables was a ‘team’. Teams earned points for things like regularly doing work. This meant nothing to me.

But my teacher rearranged us, putting me in a group with three hypercompetitive boys who all wanted the candy prizes, in hopes of making me start to perform. It failed. I didn’t do my work, I went to detention, our team did poorly, my classmates hated me, and I still disliked my teacher, even moreso now that I had seen through her blatant tactics.

Moral of the story? Nothing on Earth can make me compete if I don’t want to.

There are rare times when I will want to win something short, maybe a brief race, but that’s the exception.

As for groupwork–GROAN–let me tell you about groupwork. The 80/20 rules applies. 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I was always in the 20%, and it sucked balls. Why should I carry someone who won’t even say a polite hello to me? Depending on the project and how it was graded, I would tailor my output to show who had done the work.

Granted, groupwork got a lot more pleasant out in the working world, because most people by that age have realized they need to step up. Jobs depend on it.

Still, there’s the inevitable misunderstandings. People don’t explain themselves well, and others don’t hear well. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes working with just one other person can be amazing. Those are okay. Working with the right person can be sublime.

There are times when you need to collaborate with other people. I got that. I’ll go along when it needs to happen.

But I am so, so much happier at my own desk, doing my own work, and not stuck in endless meetings that don’t actually need me.

Photo: college.library (Obviously a STEM situation, since there are no women. Also a groupwork issue I dislike. Grrr.)

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