One of the questions I’m asked frequently is “who is your competition?” Another version is “What are you doing to beat your competition. There is nothing in your strategic plan that analyzes your competitors.” I think this is a stupid question.
Who heck do we compete with? I don’t know, and I don’t care.
Most companies look around and see businesses that are similar to their own and consider these other companies competitors. They watch their competitors closely, try to poach their competitors’ talent to gain insights, and react to what their competitors are doing. I say that is a total and utter waste of their time and talents.
Why spend your valuable time and energy worrying about what the other guy is doing? Does the sprinter spend the race looking behind him/her. No! The sprinter is focused on running the most technically perfect and fastest race they can run. They are really competing against themselves and the clock, not the sprinters next to them. As soon as they look over their shoulder they have lost sight of what is in front of them and taken their energy/focus away from what will win them the race: running the best they can.
Ever hear an athlete be disappointed in their performance even though they won? – You likely have. These are the individuals we have the most to learn from because they hold themselves accountable to their best work – not someone else’s.
We only have so much energy and you must be focused on how you spend that energy. If you spend your energy on worrying and reacting to what the competition is doing, then you are not spending your valuable energy on the most critical area you should be focusing on…greatness. How can you see where you are going if you are spending your time looking over your shoulder?!?
I figure if I spend 20 percent of my time worrying about the other guy, that is time I don’t spend figuring out how I can help our company be the best it can be. If the other guys are worrying about us 20 percent of their time, they can’t be the best they can be. By focusing on what we can do to be great we will be 25 percent better than everyone else.
We don’t believe we have any competitors. We have freed our minds so all our energy can focus on how we are going achieve greatness for our customers. We are playing our own game and only competing against ourselves.
Reacting to your competition won’t help you win – at best you’ll lose less quickly. You can’t become the best by only doing a better job than your competition. Ignore your competition and see your greatness revealed.
If you are focused on your customer and how you can amaze and delight them, the only competition is you. Your customers will reward you for it.