Do You Really HAVE to Be in Competition to do Your Best Work?

I am sitting in a dance competition. Again.

If you know anything about me from Facebook, Instagram, or other places where we post about our big family and the joyful chaos it is, you know I spend a lot of weekends at the back of a ballroom watching my kids in competitive dance. Today I am here again and Taylor Swift is pouring out of the speakers at the front of the room drenching me in popular culture.

The competitive dancer on stage is executing the choreography to perfection with the skill of an elite athlete. Precise. Exacting.

And joyless. Oh, sure, she is smiling at all the right times. And it is too perfect. Like the uniform drawing of a Christmas Tree, not the nonuniform, messy, and beautifully real Christmas tree in nature that inspired the sterile, perfect drawing.

And so, everyone’s eyes are on the kid at the back of the auditorium. That kid. The one back there who is dancing with abandon – dancing out of the sheer love of Taylor Swift music. The one dancing for joy.

Which makes me think about you: in a world where the heart of the art of a product/service/whatever is increasingly vital to attract buyers to your business, who do you want to be? The technically perfect or the one with heart? My impromptu market test from a dance-competition ballroom suggests you want the heart of your product to connect with the hearts of several hundred (or thousand) humans.

And so to my point: competition has wrung the heart of the art out of the perfect dance on stage but has not touched the heart pouring out of the child at the back. And so humans cannot help but turn around, watch, smile, and be drenched in joy.

So whose product is better? Who is doing his/her best work? Do you really want the technically perfect product chiseled by competition which customers abandon when someone shows up who does it just for the love of it?