Why We Lose to the Competition

This past weekend, my daughter was competing in her first ever track meet. It was exciting to watch these kids sprint their fastest down the line to try and win the race. The atmosphere was filled with enthusiasm as the crowds cheered for the runners.

As the winners from each flight crossed the finish line, I noticed something. Each one of the winners had something in common. It wasn’t their body type, running lane, or stride. The commonality was obvious…The winners never looked at the competing runners.

With laser-like intensity, the winners only looked at the finish line. It’s as if the other runners weren’t there. They didn’t matter. As soon as the starter fired his pistol, the winners looked straight ahead.

The losing runners also had something in common. They kept looking to their left and right. These runners were always gauging their position among the runners. But every time they looked around, they lost more time. In fact, the worst performing runners looked around the most. These runners were different than the winners. They focused more on the competition than themselves.

The winners were competing with themselves. The losers competed against everyone else. The winners were running at their full potential. The losers would merely run hard enough to beat the next slowest competitor. This creates a competitive paradox. To beat the competition, ignore the competition.

In business, how much time do we waste by looking at the competition? We look to our competition for guidance and then mimic their best practices. We look to our competition and try to run just a little faster.

Constantly benchmarking ourselves against the competition is too limiting. Our creativity is bound by the constraints of our competition. We are running just fast enough to beat them. But what if we ran to our full potential?

If we are too focused on the competition, we never realize our full potential. Rather than looking outside to our competition, look inside. Look internally so that you become the best of who you are. What if you were so focused on your potential that the competition becomes irrelevant? Imagine the possibilities.

Winners focus on beating themselves not the competition.


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