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S2 EP151 – Success: Compete or Cooperate and Create

Episode Summary

Many achieve wealth through competition, but are the emotional consequences worth it? And do you know that even more success can be achieved through the creativity that results from cooperation? Discover how to successfully manifest your dreams and have fun doing it! 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I’m talking about the big difference in your experience, as well as the outcome, when there is cooperation rather than competition when it comes to success in work, as well as in relationships. I’m not talking about the kind of competition between sports teams. I’m talking about how the energy of competition when people are doing a common project, or are on the same team, or in a relationship, can undermine the joy of connection and the creativity that can come from supportive cooperation.

Obviously, competition often works to create wealth, but so often it leads to inner emptiness. I’ve worked with many very wealthy clients who consulted with me because they didn’t understand why, with all they’ve achieved, they still feel empty. They don’t understand the huge difference between achieving though competition or through creative cooperation.

How many people do you know who, having achieved financial wealth through competition, are inwardly peaceful and joyful?

I love this quote by Wallace Wattles, the author of the over 100 year old book, The Science of Getting Rich. Don’t be put off by his use of “men” rather than “people,” because at that time, including women wasn’t in his consciousness, and he likely thought the term ‘men’ also included women. He said, “The more men who get rich on the competitive plane, the worse for others; the more who get rich on the creative plane, the better for others.”

And, in my experience, what’s good for others is also good for us, and what’s truly good for us, is also good for others. But too often, people achieve success without considering what is good for others.

When you are focused on achieving financial success through competition, you are coming from a belief system that centers around the concept of lack. You believe that resources are finite so you must fight for them. Fighting for them means that you might need to take from others to give to yourself. Rather than enhancing others’ lives through your work, you might need to use others to achieve your goals. When reaching your goals through competition is what guides you, the means justifies the end and personal integrity is lost in the process.

The competitive thoughts that originate in the mind, come from the false beliefs that have been programmed into us, such as:

  • There isn’t enough to go around
  • It’s a dog eat dog world
  • First come, first served
  • Get it while you can
  • Nice guys finish last
  • The means justify the ends

These programmed beliefs might lead you to take advantage of others whenever you can, to take more than you give, and to relinquish caring in both business and personal matters.

The wounded self generally believes that we can get what we want only through controlling others, rather than through devoted self-expression and creative cooperation. Through many forms of controlling others, such as being judgmental, righteous, angry, threatening, lying and so on, the wounded self attempts to achieve its goals. The cost of behaving in these competitive and controlling ways is that there is no possibility of inner peace or joy – no possibility of connection with spirit. People who attempt to achieve through competition are often not able to get their frequency high enough to connect with the love, peace, and joy of spirit. They can bully their way into material success, but true happiness will likely elude them.

There is another way of achieving financial success, which is shifting your intent to caring rather than controlling, and to cooperation rather than competition, which allows creativity to manifest.

When we choose the intent to learn about loving ourselves and others, rather than the intent to control others, we open our access to creative thought. Creative thought is the thought that comes THROUGH us from our spiritual guidance when we are open to learning about what is most loving to ourselves and others. Creative thought does not originate in the mind – it comes through the mind.

Shifting from controlling others to true self-control regarding your intent, thought, and actions leads to a shift from false beliefs to truth. The loving adult knows that:

  • Thought is creative. Nothing comes into form without first being a thought.
  • That the universe is creative and abundant, and we can tap into the abundance through our own creative thought.
  • That creative thought comes from self-control, which means choosing to take full responsibility for whether we choose thoughts from our wounded ego mind, or from the truth of our spiritual guidance. This is what we do have control over – our intent to learn truth from spirit, or our intent to act from the fears and false beliefs of our wounded self.

When you shift your intent and choose to create your financial success through your creative thoughts and integrity in your actions, you may not only achieve financial success – you may also discover your peace and joy!

When your intent is to manifest success with integrity, you create through cooperation rather than through competition. Competition creates an unsafe space – it creates adversarial interactions, while cooperation creates a safe creative space. A safe space fosters learning, growth, and creativity. When two or more people are gathered to learn, the creative power they generate is far more than one can achieve alone. Each person’s ideas generate more ideas as the creative energy swirls around, imbuing all with an awesome creative power.

Years ago, I was fortunate to know an incredible woman named Donna Shirley. I wrote about her in my recent book, How to Become Strong Enough to Love, and what I wrote deserves repeating here.

Donna, who worked with Inner Bonding for years, was the engineer at Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL) who managed the Mars Exploration Program. She was the original leader of the team that built the Sojourner Rover, which held the world enthralled when it landed on Mars on July 4, 1997, along with the Mars Pathfinder.

Donna is also the author of Managing Martians and Managing Creativity. She is an expert on creating safe relationship spaces that foster high creativity and productivity.

In Managing Creativity, Donna said, “Creativity is generally viewed as an individual pursuit, and, of course, it can be, but groups can produce things that one person can hardly imagine. Spacecraft, cathedrals, good schools, parks, medicines, and computers all result from group or ‘collective’ creativity.” (Managing Creativity, p.1-1)

Donna believes we need “cooperative processes” to establish the environment for creativity. “The challenge,” she said, “is to make it more productive, more congenial, and more fun…Creative endeavors should be fun, exciting, stimulating, and allow for personal expression, but they must also produce something that will work and sell.”

This kind of “fun, exciting, stimulating” creativity can blossom in both home and work environments. In a cooperative creative environment, chores or duties no longer need be drudgery. Instead of being relegated to our off-hours, fun becomes an integral part of the safe and creative relationship space.

When an enlightened manager such as Donna creates a safe, open learning environment instead of a controlling competitive one, not only is creativity heightened, so is productivity. And not only are people more productive, their work is of higher quality. This is because when people operate from fear of being one-down, which occurs in competitive environments, and fear of disapproval, they try to do things right to gain approval instead of doing things well as an expression of their natural desire to be competent.

Competence comes from the inner desire to express ourselves in whatever way is available. The rampant incompetence in our work force results from a lack of caring about the quality of our work. People who fear engulfment and resist being controlled by those in authority may do as little work as they can. Others, motivated by a desire to gain approval and avoid disapproval, may do way more work than is necessary and end up exhausted. In an effort to control gaining approval, they may do things right, but their creativity may fall by the wayside in their efforts to prove themselves rather than express themselves. They are defining their worth through outcomes rather than through their creativity, caring, and support of each other. They are competing to define their worth rather than cooperating to express their worth. Instead of supporting and cooperating with those they admire, they tend to try to squash the people they admire in their efforts to be one-up. Instead of learning from others who they admire, they are threatened by them, and this is a very sad way to go through life.

As Donna Shirley pointed out, “Organizations are going to have to change their practices in order to take full advantage of the creativity of their people…In a balanced state, discomfort gives way to excitement and determination. Anxiety is transformed into energy, as the creativity of the group is focused on getting a job done. In this state, desired results are not only possible, they call forth the best efforts that often attain greatness.” (Managing Creativity, 1-5)

When we desire to express ourselves rather than prove ourselves, we don’t compete with each other; we cooperate and support each other. When we desire to be our best rather than be better than others, competition simply doesn’t exist.

Competition often grinds down both fun and creativity. When you decide to support others rather than compete, you will discover that, not only is there is enough to go around, but you achieve a high level of self-worth through your caring, cooperation, and kindness, which you will never feel through competition.

Persistence is another aspect for success, and we all need support to persist. Competition often undermines our persistence, while cooperation supports us in not giving up.

Richard DeVos, Co-Founder of Amway, said, “If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence.”

Do you get discouraged of ever achieving your goals? Do you contemplate giving up? I hope not, but you don’t have to do it yourself. You can reach out for support from people who value kindness and cooperation rather than competition. Sometimes, getting the support you need can help you open to your intuition and your higher guidance to achieve your goals.

I read a true story about a man searching for gold. He searched long and wide and never found the gold he was hoping for. He spent all his money on his search and had to sell his house. The man who bought his house found one of the biggest gold deposits in the world right on that land that the house was on and became extremely wealthy. The man who sold him the house gave up too soon and didn’t search right in his own backyard.

Over twenty-four years ago we had a vision of a software program we wanted to create that would teach Inner Bonding in a deep and powerful way. It has taken an enormous amount of persistence for us to keep working on this, especially when, 14 years ago, our programmer disappeared, apologetically emerging four months later. But spirit brought us a wonderful new programmer, and now SelfQuest is online. Many people have let me know how life changing SelfQuest has been for them. It took a lot of persistence, cooperation, support, and creativity to bring this about.

Never give up on your vision, on your dream, on your passion and your sense of purpose. I’m so excited about the wonderful ways Inner Bonding is spreading around the world. I get such great feedback from people healing with Inner Bonding and SelfQuest, and I feel the thrill of manifesting our vision. They say things like, “It’s wonderful. Thank you so very much.” “It has helped me tremendously.” “This program is extraordinary!” “SelfQuest is amazing.” “I absolutely love it.” The persistence and cooperative creativity continue to bring us joy!

We have also created our powerful Inner Bonding Facilitator Training Program to bring Inner Bonding all over the world, which was created by a wonderful team of caring, cooperative, and creative people, and is being facilitated by this amazing team.

There is much to do, and we are doing it – we will continue to persist and manifest our dream, with the help and creative support of our wonderful team. This could not have come about through competition.

Now I do affiliate launches for my Inner Bonding 8-week course, when I support others’ work and they support mine. Cooperation is so much more fun than competition!

Don’t give up on manifesting your passion. And don’t limit your success by playing too small. Don’t limit your life by allowing fear and competition to stop you from doing what brings you joy.

Nelson Mandela said that “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Do you feel excited and passionate about your life? If not, you are likely playing too small – opting for safety rather than for the aliveness that comes from fully manifesting your gifts and talents.

For some strange reason, many of my clients believe that if something comes easily to them – if it is a natural talent – then it’s not what they should pursue. They believe that for something to be worthwhile, it has to be hard. Yet this is exactly the opposite of the truth! That which comes easy to you is your natural gift or talent, and it is likely what brings you the most joy.

If there is something that you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t done it, think about creating a supportive group of people to help you manifest your dream. I do this all the time. I get a lot of ideas about things that I consider to be really important, but that I know I can’t do myself. I need the support, cooperation, and creativity of others. It’s taken me some inner work to be able to reach out to the creative shakers and movers I know, but I find that they are always excited to be of help to me. None of the really successful and creative people I’m friends with have achieved their success through competition. None of them come from a scarcity mentality that says there isn’t enough to go around. If they came from this very false and limited perspective, they would never be able to be so generously supportive of me.

Recently, we had a situation in our barn that was challenging. One of our helpers was threatened by a young and experienced horse woman we recently hired. We love to create a supportive team, and Dr. Erika Chopich, co-creator of Inner Bonding and my Golden Girl housemate, is amazing at creating cooperative teamwork in the training of the horses and the work that always needs to be in our barn and on our ranch. But, instead of being supportive and cooperative, the threatened woman started to butt heads with Erika and with the new helper. This competition quickly changed the energy in the barn from light and fun to heavy and challenging. The sense of teamwork was gone, and with it went the creativity that is often necessary in dealing with the horses, especially in the heavy snow conditions we were experiencing. Finally, after Erika cautioned her about her disrespectful and competitive behavior, the threatened woman stormed out and lost a job she loved. Competition, rather than cooperation, did not serve her well. And unfortunately, instead of learning from the experience, she chose to see herself as a victim and blame others for the loss of her job.

Often, insecure and competitive people will not learn from and take responsibility for their choices, and instead level false accusations at others. It’s important for those of us who value communication, cooperation, and caring to learn to love ourselves in the face of false accusations.

For many of us, being falsely accused is extremely painful, especially when the person accusing us is someone close to us. Were you ever falsely accused as a child? How did you feel?

I was falsely accused numerous times by my parents – accused of being irresponsible when I was over-responsible, of faking pain for attention when I was in deep pain, and of having sex when I was nowhere near having sex. Not only did I feel deeply unseen by my parents, I felt unbearably helpless and lonely. What I did to avoid all this deep pain is I kept trying to be more and more perfect to prove myself. It never worked.

My client Madeline asked me, “How should I respond to false accusations from my boyfriend?”

The problem is that when someone makes false accusations rather than being opening to learning with you – as did the threatened woman in our barn – they are operating from their insecure and competitive wounded self, so there is nothing you can say that they will believe. Explaining or defending is only going to dig you deeper into the conflict. When someone is in their ego wounded self, they are not open to anything you say. They just want to be one-up by being right.

Since there is nothing you can say that will change their mind when they are in their insecure and competitive wounded self, loving yourself means not saying anything about the accusation. What Madeline needs to say to her boyfriend when he is falsely accusing her is, “I’m not going to talk to you about this when you are accusing me,” and then disengage from the conversation.

I know it’s hard to walk away rather than try to convince the other person that they are wrong. It’s hard to accept that we are helpless when it comes to getting someone to hear us and see us. But accepting our helplessness over the other person frees us to take loving care of ourselves, and frees us from the competitive energy of who’s right and who’s wrong.

The other thing to understand when someone who is insecure or competitive and falsely accuses you, is that often they are projecting on to you something that they’ve done or have thought about doing. For example, my experience of my mother was that she was often acting the victim, crying to get someone to pay attention to her. When I was in authentic pain, she projected onto me that I was doing what she did – crying as a victim. In addition, my mother took very little responsibility in the world. She didn’t work and was always looking to be taken care of, so she assumed that I was equally irresponsible, and she could not grasp how different I was from her.

My father was sexually addicted, so he assumed that I thought about sex in the way he did and projected on to me his concept of sex.

Often, when one partner accuses the other of lying or cheating, they are projecting their own lying and cheating on to their partner. The same thing often occurs when a selfish, self-centered partner accuses another person of being selfish.

The threatened woman in our barn was obviously projecting on to the new member of our barn team, and on to Erika, the anger and insecurity she was feeling. She then dumped it out, scaring the others as well as the horses as she stormed out and slammed the door. There is no talking with someone in that state.

All this is crazy-making, and it’s loving to yourself to acknowledge that you are being crazy-made and refuse to engage in discussing the accusation with the person who is projecting their feelings or behavior onto you. Bring much compassion to yourself for being falsely accused and for being crazy made. Be very kind and gentle with yourself because this is, indeed, a very painful experience. We all want to be seen, heard, understood, and acknowledged by the people we care about and work with, so when they do the opposite, we feel lonely and heartbroken.

Loving yourself means that you see, hear, understand, and acknowledge your truth and help your hurting inner child to not take the false accusations personally. They are not about you – they are about the insecure, competitive, closed person who is likely projecting their woundedness on to you.

Success coming from cooperation and creativity, both at work and in relationships, and the ability to manifest your passion and purpose, flourishes when you open to learning rather than trying to control and compete. Success through competition will never bring the joy that success through cooperation and creativity brings.

I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course to learn or deepen your Inner Bonding practice: “Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships.”

You can learn so much about loving yourself and creating loving relationships from my recent books:

And we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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