On Competing: Part Three

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Brian Kight

Understandably, you might think becoming a better competitor means you have to do more. More skills. More effort. More grinding. While that's true sometimes, it's not true all the time. More is not always better, especially when you're already doing too many things that don't work.

A simple and effective way to look at competitive opportunities is like this:

  1. What you do.
  2. What you don't do.
  3. How you do it.

You have daily opportunities to gain a competitive edge in all three ways. Almost everyone tries to compete on #1 and #3 by doing what others won't do or doing it better. Not many people look to #2 as a competitive advantage. I do. It's my favorite counterintuitive way to compete.

I'm constantly looking for how to improve my discipline in what I don't do as a way to gain competitive separation.

  • I don't blame, complain, or get defensive. 
  • I don't let my ego drive my decisions. 
  • I don't look for ways to escape discomfort.
  • I don't wait for motivation.
  • I don't take criticism personally.
  • I don't silently undermine and resist strategies I don't like.

Even when I'm unsure what to do or how to do it, I already know these things don't work, so I don't do them. By not doing these and other things, I gain two competitive advantages:

  1. My time, attention, and energy are less occupied with useless things and free to engage in more valuable activities.
  2. Every time I avoid a mistake that another competitor makes, I gain a slight separation. On a long enough horizon, a surprisingly significant percentage of any competitive field will drop off because they made too many mistakes that derailed them little by little. I can build a lead by simply avoiding these derailing behaviors.

There are opportunities everywhere for you, too, if you're willing to look for them. If you want to grow as a competitor, expand your view beyond what you do and how you do it. There is ground to gain in what you don't do.

Answer the call. Do the work.

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