Lessons Learned in Italy: Competition and Cooperation

While touring the Vatican last week in Rome, I was reminded of an important lesson. (I was on a family vacation all week and blogging about what I learned this week).

I was struck again by the fact that three of the greatest artists in history—were contemporaries of each other: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rafael. Can you imagine living at a time when you could have met with any of these three men to talk about their work? (It must have been better than having Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippin and Dennis Rodman on the same team at once. I’m certain it was better than Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade all playing together).

What I learned was that while Da Vinci was clearly the oldest, and Rafael the youngest, all three watched the work of the others, discussed their artistic creations, and sometimes competed for project assignments. They shared ideas, they inspired each other and they pushed each other to excel.

Today, I can only wonder if we would be observing less than perfect artwork from these men if they hadn’t been contemporaries, pushing each other to be better. Almost always—collaboration from other great people makes us better. At the same time, healthy competition almost always makes us better as well.

Let’s admit it. It’s easy to crave “stardom.” Most of us wish we were the only ones who did what we do, vocationally. Or, that we were the best at providing the goods or services we offer. But in reality, it’s good to have equally talented people around us. They push us to excel.

Who pushes you to excel that you didn’t even appreciate until now?



Lessons Learned in Italy: Competition and Cooperation