The other day I was asked how I view competition. I thought this was a very interesting question, and as usual, I asked what they meant by that (I have a habit of doing that, so I know I am answering their question behind the question). However, the person I was with didn’t give me any more feedback, so I had to start inwardly thinking how I really view competition.

I started off by saying that I think there are two ways of looking at competition. The first way is the way that a boxer looks at the person in the ring with him, or maybe two gladiators in the colosseum in old Rome. My competition is the other guy, and to survive I need to be better than they are, and in some cases, I need to fight and kick ass. It is a confrontation.

The other way of looking at competition is the person who is running a race. The person to my left and right are running too. And it is a way of checking my pace. The person to my left who is ahead of my actually could spur me on to do better, (I know my times are much better when I run in a sanctioned marathon where there are tons of other runners vs a training run). If another business is doing something I am not, I can look to see if that is something I need to be doing too to keep my momentum going. This is a comparison.

So, the competition can be a confrontation or a comparison. I started thinking out loud a little more with my friend I was talking to because though both of these are ways of looking at competition is valid and is evident, will either way really grow my business?  And the answer that came to us was NO.

Confrontation will be there, but we can learn to deal with it. But spending time defending yourself from confrontation also takes away from your movement, so avoiding it sometimes is the best defense altogether. I teach martial arts, and when we spar, the best way to block a kick is not to be where the kick is! You may need to defend at times, so learn how to block as well. When we are engaged in confrontation, we slow down all results, and it takes a disciplined mind not to get emotionally charged when engaged as well.

Comparisons tend to focus on how you are similar to your competition, but it also engages a bit of envy or jealousy if you feel you are behind.  Again, a disciplined mind needs to see all the preparation that went into where the competition is and compare the preparation,  not the results. Preparations deal with resources, experience, systems. To be able to have different results than your competition you need now to focus on your differences rather than your similarities.

In retrospect, competition can show you where you are and can give you ideas of what is possible, but your competition has nothing to do with your success. Success comes from your energy given to your uniqueness. Competition will always be there, but it never defines YOU. You can use it to strengthen and educate yourself. It is something to be aware of, and to also be wary of how you are feeling about competition because competition can slow you down as well – but that will ultimately be your own doing.

How do you view competition? Share your thoughts in the comments or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your opinion.

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