3 reasons to mostly ignore your competition

By Brett Tilford
Published on February 3, 2012 under Culture, Leadership

Competition is a good thing: pushing us to go a little farther or higher than we might have on internal motivation alone. But there’s a dark side to obsessing over the competition. Below are three reasons to mostly ignore them.

When we focus on our competitor’s work, we’re no longer focused on ours.

It really doesn’t matter whether we’re dealing with a familiar task or exploring new challenges. What matters is our ability to focus on the context and constraints of whatever we’re doing. When viewed from this perspective, it’s clear that obsessing over the competition is a huge distraction. Your client needs you focussed on effectively solving their problem — not concerned with how company X goes about their work. If they wanted your competitor to handle this issue then they would have hired them.

When we focus on our competitors, we become cheap imitations.

One of Seth Godin’s insights in Linchpin is that fact that the era of mass industrialization — with generic companies, producing generic products, for generic people — has ended. In other words, small business owners  reading the e-Myth and attempting to turn unique people into automatons and their processes into assembly line tasks are about 30 years too late. We’ve all seen those folks. They’re the two person operation whose website portrays them like a multinational corporation; or  the small non-profit who, rather than emphasizing their mission, portray themselves as some global organization like the Red Cross.

This is the problem with chasing the competition: you begin to market yourself as who you think you should be rather than who you really are. If people want to be associated with your competition — that’s their business. You keep being you – it’s your best shot at success anyway.

When we focus on our competitors, we lose our own standards.

Every organization has its own cultural flavor. Far from being something to hide, it’s something to emphasize! It’s ridiculous to internalize the standards of our competitors and judge ourselves accordingly. Instead we need to focus on who we are and our own standards of what “good work” looks like for our organization. Otherwise, we’re doomed to be the schizo organization who says we’re about one thing, while judging ourselves by the standards of something (or someone) else entirely.

So please, ignore the competition and get to work.

 About the author

Brett Tilford is the primary contact on all project work for Ascendio. Brett ensures that communication between teams is ongoing and transparent; that projects are on time and on budget; and that clients are happy.


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