The St. Patrick’s Day Symbol

This weekend, while you’re pouring yourself a Guinness and toasting to Ireland, you will probably be wearing green, in honor of the Irish. And if you’re headed to a bar, you will find the iconic four-leafed clover everywhere you look. From banners across the bars, to logos on beers and decorations on T-shirts where flirtatious women might want men to look, they’re everywhere!

You'll see a lot of this symbol on Sunday, and that's, in part, why St. Patrick's Day is so popular.

You’ll see a lot of this symbol on Sunday, and that’s, in part, why St. Patrick’s Day is so popular.

And the four-leafed clover grew to become a myth to not just represent St. Patrick’s Day but all of Ireland. ‘The luck of the Irish’ is tightly entwined with the belief that a four-leaf clover will bring you good luck, which is just an uncommon form of the three-leaf variety. The small, delicate little shamrock has become enmeshed with the Irish people, at least in myth and lore.

But where did it come from? When Saint Patrick traveled to Ireland in the fourth century, the story goes, he explained the Catholic religion and its belief in the Holy Trinity, using the three-leaf clover. That’s a neat story. It’s interesting, memorable, easy to share and plausible.

Now, no one can truly say if that really happened. Not many records have been kept that provide much insight into the life of St. Patrick. Yet, the Catholic church celebrated the day, and Irish immigrants throughout the Western world began to share the tradition, turning it into a day of recognition for the Irish culture. Not bad from just a little story of a three-leaf clover.

But that’s the power of a strong story that can turn an object into a symbol. It doesn’t need to be real, and it doesn’t have to be large, but it can grow to mean so much to so many.

On a smaller scale, that’s the type of myth or allure you want to develop as you create your own story or content. Continue reading

photo by: faith goble

Redefining Competition And Value

Conqueror: To overcome or surmount by physical, mental, or moral force

Value: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable

 One thing the U.S. business world knows is competition.

“I need to outperform so-and-so to get the promotion.”

“If we have more revenues, then we can invest more into XX product, which will blow away the competition.”

“If I just work harder and faster than everyone else, then my business will become a success.”

The me-versus you tactic in business can hurt your company in the long-term. Instead develop a greater good.

Sound familiar? While having competition, goals and a strong to desire to come out on top is great, it’s how we look at competition that might be sending us down the wrong path.

Paul Graham, a creator of the startup incubator YCombinator recently touched on this subject when discussing ways to develop a business idea. He wrote (I’ve bolded for emphasis):

“Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you’re probably not too late. It’s exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility. So unless you discover a competitor with the sort of lock-in that would prevent users from choosing you, don’t discard the idea.”

So why, then, do we focus so much on competition?

It’s interesting because we view competition as this me versus you dynamic. I’m better than that company because of X, Y and Z. And while this competition against another can drive the short-term ambition, motivation or whatever, there’s a serious problem when looking for long-term happiness and growth. First, let’s discuss growth.

When looking for ways to grow, while competing against another, it will narrow your view for potential possibilities. That’s great for launching the business, as your focus becomes a strength while you take on the initial steps to turn a profit. Once you have, though, you will need to grow through different means. But you’re so focused on what your competitor has done, is doing or might do, that you miss out on opportunities that the competitor may never have thought about. Your narrow viewpoint has hurt your ability to see the larger competitive space. That’s a growth hindrance.

Happiness is often cited as the number one goal in life, even for those running a business. But competition has shown to create isolation from the community. Having a strong community bond is one of the most important factors in ensuring a happy lifestyle. That means if you’re competing for a job with a co-worker, then that creates distrust and breaks the community bond long-term, leading to a less happy office. So you may win at the expense of another, but you haven’t accomplished your number one goal in life: happiness.

Instead, what if we took the competition idea, and turned it around. Instead of competing against another, you’re competing against something in your world that needs changed. Continue reading

photo by: The U.S. Army