Is Competition Good or Bad?

Competition sucks, right? We work so hard because of competition. If competition didn’t exist we won’t have to work so hard worrying about failure and getting left behind by the world, right?

Imagine a world where no one strives for anything, and everyone just existing, waiting, bored.

Competition benefits everyone. It drives innovation, and performance. This is why we no longer travel on a horse and buggy.

And we’re now in intelligent cars that can take us on longer distances in comfort and style.

Competition benefits all by enabling us to choose from an array of excellent products at affordable prices. It means lower prices and greater choices. It also questions current technology and push people and companies to evolve and examine new ideas to meet consumers’ needs. Competition fuels vendors and manufacturers, and government systems, service industries, and more to keep improving to better serve the public.

Still on the fence? Let’s look at some ways great people might see competition differently.

We tend to think that being bigger and more powerful are advantages in any competition. Sometimes that’s true, but it’s also true that smaller, nimbler, leaner competitors often come out on top. Think of Google in the early to mid-2000s, when it was hiring the best engineers it could find and acquiring social network after network while News Corp paid $500 million for MySpace. Lo and behold, the dominant social network was being built in a Harvard dorm room. Great leaders don’t discount the advantages that larger players have, but they understand that you don’t know how a competition will play out until it actually plays out.

Apple’s FaceTime, Facebook’s Messenger, Google’s Hangouts, Microsoft’s Skype – They all recognized the need for people to connect with friends and loved ones and were writing “air mail” letters, making long-distance telephone calls, or sending emails. The way people address these needs change, but the needs themselves stay constant. Great leaders recognize that there are many uncertainties in life, but if you build a business that helps meet these kinds of perpetual customer needs, you’ll have a leg up on your competition.

The Census
Per, the population in the US has grown from 281 Million to about 317 Million at the turn of the century. The way that population has grown, and how its makeup has changed over time, gives important clues to what the future will hold. If we have a higher percentage of senior citizens, that tells you that some markets will expand, while others might contract. Moreover, more income inequality means more opportunities to sell overpriced things to the obscenely rich, and means opportunities to come up with economical products and services for the rest of us. Bottom line? Great leaders pay attention to the census.

The Circle of Life
Fashions make come-backs. They sweep the society like a whirlwind, wear out their welcome, get mocked and disappear. But they eventually return. Great leaders understand that the best way to predict the future is sometimes to examine how things unfolded in the past.

Herds don’t think
Great leaders understand that there is no groupthink, simply because everyone in the group assumes that somebody else in the group will do the thinking. Great leaders understand that the worst reason to commit to any course of action or continue any type of behavior is probably because “everyone does it.” Moreover, being among the small minority who think for themselves can translate into significant advantages.

Learn from the pioneers
People rarely remember the first person to accomplish something. Instead, they remember and sometimes celebrate the first people to accomplish those same things while applying lessons they had learned from their predecessors’ mistakes. Everyone knows the Wright Brothers

But who remembers Otto Lilienthal?

It’s almost not fair but the original person only has a potential advantage. Just a potential. It’s often those who come to an idea next, and who perfect it, who eventually benefit from it most.

The bottom line is, if there’s no competition, there’s no progress. Everyone will think that they’re the only ones with brilliant ideas. The truth is, anything that’s worth doing has a form of it around already. The more competition there is, the more the opportunity. You may not be able to figure out how to do something better, but if nobody is doing anything at all, no one really benefits and our brains, creativity, imagination wither and die.


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