Slaughter presents a contrast between caring and competition, one of the guiding strands of the book:
“Competition, with myself as well as with others, has helped drive many of the best things I have done in my life. But loving and caring for my family and friends, teaching and mentoring my students, helping and watching staff members grow into and then out of their jobs is every bit as rewarding.”
I wonder if we can reframe the appealing satisfaction she identifies in competition as a more neutral value, one that can be complementary to caring.
Competition is appealing because it’s satisfying to master something. This has application to all facets of life: not only paid work. I’d love to reach a point where I feel like my husband and I have mastered talking through disagreements. We are not there yet. We are getting better! An oppositional mindset could never get us there, but a cooperative mindset could.
Similarly, it gives me deep satisfaction to have mastered certain elements of parenting. It’s one of the things I am enjoying most about having a second baby, a chance to look after a bubba without so much self-doubt. I know for example that if he wakes after only 20 minutes when napping in the buggy, he needs me to settle him back to sleep, and then he will get a good rest and be his chilled little self. And when I succeed in getting him back to sleep, WOOHOO that is a PARENTING WIN my friend.
A cooperative flow with another person can also be a win. That flow is something that is highly valued in a professional setting, and it’s also a feature of parenting. I love baking with the little dude for this reason, “and den we mixtz it all todetha, and den we dgonna woll it out!”, and he’s happy and engrossed, and I’m happy and engrossed, and it’s a joint enterprise we’re doing with great success.
So yeah, not buying this dichotomy at all.