I’m resetting my attitude and approach to competition somewhat.
I’ve said before that although I hate competition, like we all do if we’re honest, it’s a fact of life in business. My previous thoughts and attitudes about competition in business have indicated that I’d rather obliterate ALL competition, or that’d I’d prefer not to have competition, even.
But today I want to tweak that attitude and approach and say: But I welcome competition. In fact, I want to play against GREAT competition. (And yes, I actually still want to crush and obliterate them, by the way.)
Here’s why I want to start welcoming it: Competition makes you better.
In fact, competition forces you to stay awesome.
It doesn’t allow you to coast or sink into mediocrity. It keeps you on edge and consistently evaluating where you are and what you’re doing.
So to shape my thoughts on competition in business lately … I’ve been thinking about sports in relation to this topic (namely volleyball and basketball, which I’ve played at different times in my life). And thinking about competition in those sports has helped me revisit my approach to competition in business … and learn some reasons why competition is VITAL to our continuing capacity to be and stay awesome.
One side note regarding competition: Think about the great athletes of our time … would they be as good or as celebrated as we remember without other athletes who opposed them? Think of all the legendary matches and games … it was always someone VERSUS someone. We often just focus on the winner, but great competition makes for better victories. And I would argue their competition is what made them even greater and helped define them for us. Would those historic events or people have been as good without such fierce opposition and competition?
Here are some reasons why we should welcome competition in business:
Competition forces you to ….
- get better — if you approach competition as learning and growing opportunities, you’ll use competition to get better.
- play up — if you play BETTER competition consistently, you will get better, while they have to play down to your level. In volleyball, I saw great teams play lower level teams and do that. And vice versa. Every time I play a better opponent, I learn something about myself. I learn how far the gap is between where my opponent is and myself. And allows me to raise the level of my own game with that knowledge and experience.
- define what you really believe in — sometimes competition provide clarity … of missions, values, philosophies, and who you’re fighting for.
- really believe in what you’re doing — and ultimately who you’re playing with. To play the game, you have to have perseverance and commitment.
- keep score — it allows you to measure how well you’re really doing. If you’re just playing by yourself, you won’t care about the score and thus know how you can improve.
- prove you’re good enough to play — if you’re scared of competition, maybe you’re just not good enough to be in the game in the first place. And perhaps you should be watching and learning from the bench right now.
- play good consistently — you can have an off day and lose once or twice, but you can’t have entire off seasons. Coaches and players get fired for losing seasons. Competition forces consistency of showing up, every day, READY to play.
- keep your eye on what matters — if you’re dominating the opponents consistently, you’ll be tempted to turn your attention away from the game and to the spectators who are cheering for you. And in the meantime your competitors are scoring points when your back is turned to the spotlight of glory.
- see the whole court — when a new team arrives on the court, you start to look around for others coming your way. Competition forces you to look at everything and everyone.
- be innovative — good competition forces you to think and to act more innovatively because you can’t just simply stick with yesterday’s winning strategies forever. Eventually they learn your patterns and strategies and mimic them or defend against them better. Competition forces you to think better and creatively about winning.
- watch your back — as a point guard, I tried to dribble fast and ahead of the competition down the court but was always making sure I knew who was lurking behind me, ready to take the ball away. You’ve got to stay sharp on the court and know where everybody is at all times.
- be quick, decisive and ready — when your home court is at risk, you’ve got to stay sharp and that means being ready to act.
- care — if you care about the game, you’ll care whether you win or not. It’s about pride in what you’re doing and making sure you protect all that you’re doing.
Ultimately, this is all about using competition to be and do better for your customers and clients — the people who pay to watch the game.
These are some reasons why I believe competition is often our best ally for getting and staying better at what we do.
Competition as we have said is also a reality in business. You can’t get around it.
So instead of ignoring the competition, merely hating their existence or throwing verbal barbs and critiques at them … why not use them to learn and get better for your fans? Why not play against them and gauge how you’re really doing and to stay focused, innovative, creative, and ready for the next opponent.
Because when you’re a fierce competitor, ready and committed to winning the game against ANY opponent, your fans will flock to cheer you on as you summarily crush the opposition on their home court to their delight!