Rock Paper Scissors
If your friend fails, you feel bad. But if your friend succeeds (and you haven’t), you feel worse.
Despite being funny, there is some amount of truth to it. It is common human behavior to feel this way and it is even more prominent in a competitive environment. On my very first day at Google, we had a small exercise to fight this instinct.
The exercise is a simple extension of the game Rock-Paper-Scissors. You find a partner next to you and play a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. The winner of the game would play a game with another winner from the first round while the loser would be a cheerleader for the winner, standing behind and cheering for the winner to win the next round. The game goes on until there are 2 players, each having a group of cheerleaders whom they’ve defeated (directly or indirectly). As you can imagine, more the number of people in the room, more fun the game is.
It is even harder to follow this in real life, where the stakes are higher and the losses are harder to accept. For example, imagine that you and your colleague are working on a prototype for the same product. After a discussion with the product team, your manager decides to go with your colleague’s prototype and now you’ve to work with your colleague to production-ize it. You can choose to not work on your colleague’s prototype as your colleague would get the credit for it or you can be happy for your colleague and work with him/her in building a successful product. The answer is easy and obvious but hard to follow.
Invest in your friend’s or colleague’s success - it will definitely help you in the long run!
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