Photo by Borrowed Time
By David B. Bohl
You may or may not think you live in a competitive world. But if you look around you in your personal and professional lives, you will see there is competition on many levels. Personally, you compete for resources, material goods, time, attention, and energy. Professionally, you compete for jobs, promotions, clients, customers, recognition, and dollars.
Where do you find yourself in competition on a daily basis? Is it in finding a good parking space at the post office? Or getting a good starting time on the golf course? In business do you find your competitors cutting prices to compete for your customers? Do you see new businesses opening that compete with you by having more current technology and products?
In our personal lives, merchants compete in a cutthroat race for our business. Ads on television and in magazines and newspapers tell us what we should buy. In two hours of prime time TV you might see ads for two to three different brands of cars. In grocery stores, there are no less than 50 different breakfast cereals competing for space in your shopping cart. And when you go into a bookstore, don’t you feel like every book is competing against the others for your attention?
In our everyday lives we encounter competition. Which items on our to-do list can we get done today? Which movie should we see? Which friend should we hang out with? Which shirt should we put on today? With more and more stuff in our lives and more and more options for activities to choose from, we face a highly competitive world every day of our lives.
How can you stay sane and make good choices? How can you come out ahead when faced with competition in all areas of your life? I suggest you consider these daily practices that will help you keep your edge in a competitive world.
1. Stay on top of your industry
To compete in the business world you must know what is going on in your industry. If you work in the publishing world, for example, you need to know what types of books people are buying, where readers are buying books, and what the next trends are. You do this by reading trade journals, attending conferences, and talking to key people in your industry. If you’re a business owner, such as an accountant, you need to keep up on tax laws and any changes in your industry and you need to keep your entrepreneurial skills sharp. You will definitely be able to keep your competitive edge if you stay informed. For your daily practice, read an industry journal every day.
2. Keep educated
You can’t compete if you’re not the best at what you do. Some industries have ongoing education, such as the beauty field. Most hairstylists take seminars continually as hair styles and cutting techniques change. Read books, take classes and seminars; hone your skills, and learn a new skill if you want to advance in your company. Education will provide you with a strong edge above your competition. For your daily practice, read a book or study some educational material.
3. Review your goals daily
With all the options competing for your attention, how can you make informed choices? I’ve often advised my coaching clients to measure these alternatives against their goals. If you have a goal to lose 10 pounds and you are looking at the foods competing for your attention in the grocery store, you may choose the ones that fit your goal of losing weight. If your goal is to get a promotion at work, and you have competition for the job, you might need to learn a new skill to give you the edge. If your goal is to reach a certain income level in your business and the competition is cutting prices, you could develop a new product line to gain the edge. Your daily practice is to read your goals each day and use them to help you make decisions from the competing choices and to stay ahead of your competition.
4. Stay healthy
It’s difficult to maintain a competitive edge if you’re not mentally and physically fit. You need clear thinking to determine your actions. You need physical energy to take on the competition. What you will do as a daily practice is up to you, but here are some suggestions. For mental fitness you might start the day repeating 5 positive affirmations that put you in a positive mindset for the day. An example would be: “I am excited about all the challenges I face each day with ease and victory.” To stay fit physically, do a morning stretch routine, jump on a trampoline, or take a 2-mile walk. Also, choose foods that energize rather than exhaust.
5. Take a risk
What can you do each day to stretch yourself? To keep an edge up on the competition, you need to do new things and do things differently. What are you afraid of? What’s holding you back? What are your limitations? Do something each day that moves you out of your comfort zone. Drive a new route to work, pack a new lunch, wear a new combination of clothes, talk to a stranger, read a newspaper you’ve never read.
What will you do each day as a daily practice that will help you keep your edge in a competitive world?