My husband is a fanatical fan of the Tour de France, happening right now. While I think it is best to watch each of the dozens of 3-4 hour broadcasts in fast forward just to catch the ending, Tom prefers to watch and appreciate the strategy and beauty of competition.
This year, something happened that surprised me. On Stage 2, there was a crash (actually, lots of crashing this year) and many of the teams had riders hurt. What fascinated me was that the leader, Fabian Cancellara“held back” and rode more slowly to allow other top contenders to rejoin the front pack. He did this even though it meant that he would lose the yellow jersey (award for the leader of the “general classification”—changing hands as people change positions). Don’t misinterpret this as soft-hearted; cycling is a super competitive sport (a rider was just ejected for dangerous head butting in attempt to gain position). But Tom explained that there is an unwritten code for this kind of thing in cycling. Cancellara was quoted as saying:
“It was the right thing to do to wait, so everybody comes together to the finish line together,” he said. “When you have everybody on the ground and people five minutes behind because they can’t find their bike then it’s only normal……I think fairness comes before being selfish.
Hmm….Do we ever see this behavior in the business world? What we seem to have lost in our current economy is this sense of how the good of the one may, at strategic times, be set aside for the good of the whole. Or simply out of fairness? Maybe it is naïve to expect it but I would sure like to see some of this in business. And while we are at it – how about politics??