It sounds cynical to say that every day is a competition, but like it or not, now more than ever, it's true. Job seekers aggressively compete for a few positions, employees compete for promotion and recognition, and executives and entrepreneurs fiercely compete for resources, talent, and market share. Every day, everyone gets up and enters the ring. A small number of people are better prepared than others. They are generally the winners, the gladiators, the lions. Most other people go into battle unexpectedly, armed with just their wits and without a clear picture of the rules of battle. These poor souls are sadly doomed to a work life of disappointment and mediocrity.
You don't have to be lion fodder. Here is my gladiator guide of six simple rules that will make you as fierce a competitor as any opponent in the ring.
1. Respect Your Opponents
Hubris will surely get you killed in the ring. Dismissal and disparagement of your competitors will only keep you from identifying and addressing your weaknesses. Always assume that your competitors are smarter, better, and more creative. This way, the pressure is on them to meet expectations, and a victory elevates your position. Who cares if you trounce a weakling? The world is much more impressed if you, as David, take down Goliath.
2. Push Yourself Creatively
Often days are so busy that it's tough to find time and energy to think outside the box. In fact, most people try and create routine to make their job easier. If only your competitors were doing the same. You can beat them by dedicating time and energy every week to creative exploration of your current products and process. Learn how to deconstruct an idea or the status quo, and you'll constantly come up with new and exciting ways to impress those around you. If you need some guidance, contact me, and I will send you my soon-to-be-released e-book of Competitive Creativity Exercises for teams and individuals.
3. Pursue an Awesome Experience
Business lions feast on mediocrity. If you simply strive for good or good enough, you will be quickly consumed by the competition. Being great simply allows you to stay in the game with the other great competitors. You need to strive to create the Awesome Experience. Simply put, you must meet the need, do it in an entertaining way, and gain attention with the unexpected by surprising your world in a relevant way.
4. Use All Available Resources
Who goes to battle supported by an empty armory? Losers, that's who! Make no mistake, this is war, and you need every resource you have to win. That means the knowledge you have in your head is probably insufficient to win. Look around; there are online resources that can help train and prepare you to be battle ready. All you have to do is proactively explore. There are people who can help you learn and connect with other powerful people who can give you a major competitive advantage. All you have to do is ask. Don't be an unprepared force of one. Build a well-trained army to snuff out the competition.
5. Put Your Ego in Your Wallet, Where It Belongs
There is nothing wrong with being proud of the ideas you generate, but just because you love your concepts doesn't mean they will work. Be self-critical, and be open to criticism from others. Don't get emotionally attached to new ideas or stake your reputation on them. Be ready to happily walk away from seemingly good ideas that won't generate maximum profits. That way, you'll always strive for improvement and inspire your team to do the same.
6. Play to Win
In business, survival is not an admirable or desirable goal. Winning consistently in competition requires a clear strategy and near flawless execution. You can't just rely on raw talent. You must give time and thought to all aspects of the game and constantly adjust to gain advantage. There is little room for niceties that don't create competitive advantage in some manner. Don't hold back on your efforts. This is not the venue for conservatism. Be strong. Be prepared. Be bold!