“The only true competition is ourselves,” that’s what well-known author/optimist, Simon Sinek, said during a presentation at the 2018 Global Leadership Summit (GLS).

If this is true, organizations like Anchor of Hope would only be measured by our accomplishments, services, policies, values and vision. Things like:

  • The free pregnancy tests we offer
  • The free medical grade ultrasounds we perform
  • The free STD/STI tests we make available to men and women
  • Access to accurate information about pregnancy and parenting
  • Free parenting classes and earn while you learn program

In reality, of course, we aren’t. We are measured by the words and policies of others who share some – but not all – of our viewports. And others who offer similar services often have a louder voices, deeper pockets, and more passion for social activism and public attention.

Leaving the Land of Rainbows and Unicorns

Anchor of Hope is classified as a pregnancy medical center (PMC). Basically, that means we offer resources for pregnant women, their partners, and young moms. These include pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and STD services, to name a few. We also operate on a pro-life (not “anti-abortion”) philosophy.

When it comes to competition, pregnancy medical center (PMCs) and their supporters often view Planned Parenthood (PP) and PMCs as competitors. Herein lies an issue.

In our bipartisan society, we tend to build walls and spit issues into two sides – and Planned Parenthood is currently embroiled in a battle for survival. On one side, people are out to defund Planned Parenthood and on the other side people passionately defend Planned Parenthood. A mythical assumption follows that everyone who is not rallying behind PP, must be against it.

PMCs get lumped into this argument because of the overlap in services and the diametrically opposed values we embody. In the world of rivalries, some would pair PMCs and Planned Parenthood as ideological rivals, opposing force reminding the other side of their deeply held ‘just cause.’ An alternate viewpoint could argue both sides as worthy rivals, sharing a cause resulting in a form of healthy competition that pushes both parties toward a better place in the women’s health industry. However, for a PMC to be in the ring with PP is more like comparing apples to pineapples.

A Different View

During his speech, Senik shared intriguing comments from his most recent area of research looking at finite and infinite games.

As previously stated, if the only true competition is ourselves, we would be driven by our own values and our vision (the infinite). Consequently, every decision we make regarding our services, policies, and interests will be measured against those values. The free services offered to clients represent the finite in our center.

For example, because we value women (infinite), we believe every woman deserves respect, love, honesty, and support when facing an unplanned pregnancy or other sexual health concern (finite).  Because we believe women are intelligent and capable of making good decisions (infinite), we provide women with information about carrying to term and aborting, empowering them to sort through information to make sound self-valuing decisions (finite). Because we believe in the value of each human life(infinite), we do not schedule abortion appointments for our clients (finite).

Let’s consider a paradigm shift and look at this alleged competition through the lens of Senik’s game theory and the differences in the two game styles. Finite games are defined as: 1) known players; 2) fixed rules; and 3) agreed upon objectives. Infinite games are defined as: 1) known and unknown players; 2) changing rules; and 3) the objective is to keep the game going.

The presenter believes the difference in the approach to playing a finite and an infinite game are so vastly different, that pairing a finite game and its players against an infinite game and its players, will most often result in the finite player dropping out because he/she runs out of the will or the resources to play. Successful players understand that for continued innovation, growth, and a competitive edge, leaders within the organization must grasp both the finite and infinite aspects of the game.

BUT…We’re not here to play games

Planned Parenthood was forced into playing a game, and that game has two sides – those who want to defund them and those who want to defend them. Anchor of Hope is being pulled into the game because some feel that we naturally must be against Planned Parenthood because we are not pro-abortion.

We are not going to play.

In the perfect world, Anchor of Hope and Planned Parenthood would work together. Of course, we’d never refer a patient to PP for an abortion – that’s not our style, but Planned Parenthood’s public relations and marketing departments state they offer other services such as cancer screenings, colonoscopy exams, infertility treatments, etc. These are valuable community resource referrals that are beneficial for all women. And, because we offer no-cost pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STD/STI testing, Planned Parenthood could refer their lower-income patients to us. This, of course, would be in a perfect world.

We began this post with the statement, ‘our only true competitor is ourselves.’  This is what truly sets us apart from industry alternatives.

Rather than looking to at any perceived marketplace competition, we focus on the needs of those in our community and attempt to respond to those needs with excellent professional care, compassion, and relevant services.

We remain woman-focused with an emphasis on listening to the hearts and life stories of those we are privileged to serve. Our services are free of charge so our objectives in keeping the game going are NEVER PROFIT DRIVEN. As a matter of fact, our values tell us that it is unconscionable to financially gain from anyone’s difficult or unfortunate circumstances.

As we disengage from ‘the game,’ we define a different playing field – pro-woman, pro-health, pro-support – that’s it.