Stop Staring At Them

Can I tell you something? The most successful people in the world never just talk about beating the competition. They talk about how they are going to forge ahead using what they have, starting where they are.

In other words, they focus on solutions they can come up with, the ones that serve their customers in the best possible manner. The competition is not as important as the work that needs to get done.

That’s it. That’s what I had to tell you though I think in your heart you knew it already.

I needed a reminder though and I got it after watching an interview between Simon Sinek and Marie Forleo, where Simon recounts giving keynote talks at two different conventions: Microsoft and Apple.

“As I sat in the audience for the Microsoft event, the vast majority of the executives spent the vast majority of their presentations talking about how to beat Apple. At the Apple summit, 100% of the executives spent 100% of their presentations talking about how to help teachers teach and how to help students learn. One was obsessed with where they were going. The other one was obsessed with beating the competition.” — Simon Sinek

This was major: two different perspectives, two different approaches. One company was playing for the short term. They were focused on crushing their perceived opponent, which I suppose is ok if you’re trying to win at a  singular game (a single product launch, a particular campaign, a project bid), but in the long tail, trying to beat the competition can never be a winning strategy. 


I can’t begin to tell you the relief I felt when I watched that interview. At the time, I was refocusing on Forward Forty’s YouTube Channel and was obsessing over the figures, growth, and numbers from “the competition” i.e. successful YouTubers.

I felt deflated.

And then Simon’s words hit me. If I continued to obsess over what other You Tubers were doing: their numbers, their watch hours it would cripple my creativity. I’d forget about the stories that were uniquely mine while I was looking and obsessing over theirs. I’d begin to follow in their footsteps,  always reacting to what they are doing rather than paying attention to what was possible for me.

Sineck may have been talking about the two tech giants but in his instruction, I found this slice of wisdom. We cannot choose a reactive business model for a world that requires proactive thinking. Instead, we have to focus on the people we serve and the gifts we offer the world with our products and services. We have to concentrate on delivering our best, every day, turning up a better version than who we were yesterday. Your competition is you.  

LESSON LEARNED: Don’t waste your time worrying about what your competition is doing. Invest your energy into improving, innovating, serving and doing. Stop Staring At Them.

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