How to Gain Competitive Advantage Over Your “Competition”

Your competition is yourself, first and foremost. It’s then the circumstances that life presents to you. And finally, it’s others competing for the same thing you are. In this order. There are no silver bullets when striving to gain competitive advantage. And yet, there are “life hack” pundits wanting to sell something or increase their following by marketing short-cuts and easy ways to get rich, increase social following, lose weight, look younger, and the list goes on ad infinitum. Sustainable success and joy in life comes from key thinking, decision-making, and behaviors consistently done over time.

Shane Parrish shared five types of hard work that I loved, but will apply toward a different outcome, achieving competitive advantage and success in life.

Five ways to achieve competitive advantage and success in life:

  1. Outthink Others
  2. Give more effort than others
  3. Be more opportunistic
  4. Be more consistent
  5. Focus and prioritize more

Outthink Others

Use mental models. Update them regularly as life gives you feedback. Always test what you think compared to reality. Better thinking, decision-making, planning, and strategy over time will put you in position to stand out from average and take advantage of opportunities when they come (see #3).

Give More Effort

Work more and harder than others. I’m not talking about a competition composed solely of hours, but I am talking about putting in the effort and care to be great. And being great requires more effort. Always look for smarter ways to work, efficiencies, but don’t kid yourself that working hard for 4 hours a day will put you on the top of your game. Excellence requires time and quality repetition.

Be More Opportunistic

Position yourself to take advantage of change, i.e. a promotion at work, real estate prices dropping because the economy just tanked, etc. comes from better thinking, decision-making, planning, strategy, and behaviors over time that has improved your ability to spot opportunities, to have the needed skills, or to have the cash or opportunity to leverage assets.

Be More Consistent

Do the key behaviors daily and over a sufficient period of time.

Don’t miss workouts if your goal is health, and be aware of the underminding effects of eating in ways contrary to your goal.

Show up to work prepared for the day. This means knowing the meetings you have, their objectives, risks, how people attending may show up, etc., and prepare for this. Most people just show up. That’s good. But it’s not enough.

Add whatever scenario you want to consistently and think about what this key behavior means in that context.

Be More Focused

Know the outcome you want. Know the behaviors needed. Know the risks that may undermine your success. Focus on the plan that will achieve your objective. And say no daily to distractions that will undermine you and the organization. Too many times people and organizations are afraid to say no. They lack the courage and the discipline. Be hyper focused on what success looks like, and go after it. Protect that space at all costs from intrusion.


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