This month kind of just zoomed by, didn’t it? I saw many people step up in the name of appreciation and thanks this month, and even though this is the last post in our Giving Thanks series, I hope that everyone can keep the attitude of gratitude as a lifestyle and professional choice.

This last post I’d like to focus on appreciation for those whom many don’t often think of saying “thanks” to. As a matter of fact, many people would sooner have them just go away…your competition.

You might not find yourself in a position to actually say the word “thanks” to your competitors face-to-face or in writing. Imagine: “Thanks [insert competitor], you really kicked my ass in [insert task/project/etc.]! I appreciate you!” Yeah, that might be a little awkward. I’m talking more or less about being grateful for the opportunity to learn from the experiences, feelings, etc. that come from certain competitive situations. (And of course, if you get an opportunity to say a non-awkward “thanks” to a competitor, by all means, do so!)

Here are some things to remember as it relates to competitors and being grateful:

Competition in business and life can be healthy. It pushes people, and when you have quality competition out there, you each sharpen one another’s skills as you grow. Think about football players who compete with one another on the field. Their game is improved when they’re able to compete with equally good or better players (in this game, occasion, etc.) And sometimes these same competitive athletes are traded and end up playing for the same team, learning from one another, etc. In the latter situation, you definitely want this former competitor turned teammate to do well and you recognize the strengths that he brings, which have been there all along. When I think about competition, I think about an interview with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, where the two technology kings are asked to begin by pointing out the contribution each has made to the tech industry. Acknowledgement, appreciation, respect. Even understanding, with the right focus, is shown here.

You can view the rest of the interviews here.

Competition is less about the other guys and more about you. Take note on how you compete when it comes time to get in the game. Whether it be for new clients or sales, or for awards and recognitions, are you grateful to have “billing” with this person? Having gratitude in situations like this changes your view. You’re not on the planet alone, so there are going to be other people in your industry. Shouldn’t you have peers whose work you can admire and appreciate? If you’re not amongst the circle you want to be in, take note of what you need to do to get yourself there.

Consider coopetition. Having respect for others in your industry can provide new and different opportunities. In every industry there’s an opportunity to learn more, grow more, do more, so I agree with this video on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, featuring the next generation of spiritual leaders. When asked if they feel competitive with one another, they all agreed that there is enough for everyone, there is still a lot of work to be done and coopetition gets everyone where we want to be faster.

Know the difference, forget the haters. There’s healthy competition and the unhealthy kind…the haters, those who might not play by the same rules. How can you appreciate them? Well, for one, you can be thankful that you don’t operate in business the way that they do. Second, you can be grateful to know whom you can and can’t do business with. The way that people “do” business matters, and having the discernment to recognize the difference, what makes sense and what doesn’t, etc. makes for better interactions, relationships, opportunities and work. Whether it’s competitors or those who don’t play fair, don’t become consumed by either. You don’t have to focus on what you makes you better and what makes them (the competition or the haters) worse, but focus on what makes you different. Everyone has different preferences and tastes, and the difference of what you bring to the table is what people will notice. So be thankful for your differences. Plus, looking so hard at others can distract you from your goals. Stay focused on your vision.

How do you feel about thanking your competitors? What other ways do you have to give thanks in business?

I had the privilege of ending this month with the celebration of a woman I’m grateful for, Deanne Roberts. Last night (Nov. 29, 2012), Emerge Tampa, part of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, held an event honoring Deanne’s leadership and service in the community. The first Deanne Dewey Roberts Emerging Leader Award recipient was named (Congrats to Mike Griffin!) and the energy in the room was fantastic. I learned so much from Deanne in business and life, so it was a privilege to be a part of an event that celebrated her. I attended with Diane Egner and the 83 Degrees Media team, another group of individuals who are leading positive change in the Tampa Bay region. The keynote speaker was Simon T. Bailey who talked about the love Deanne shared for others in her lifetime, and he shared tidbits of wisdom from his book, The Vuja de Moment! You can read more about the event here.

I hope that you had a fantastic November and you’re looking forward to closing out the last month in 2012 with some great things in your business and life!

With gratitude for you,

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