I was in my local chippy the other night. Considering it is a small village, and even taking into account passing trade from the main road and the number of events that take place at a weekend, it is rarely other than really busy. However, the owners were concerned about the fact that a takeaway pizza and burger place has just opened up over the road, worried about competition and losing trade. Their response seemed to be to try and match what the new place is doing, rather than concentrating on what they do well.
I tried to tell them that there were a number of things in their favour – one, they’ve been there longer; two, the food is excellent and good value; and three, competition is a good thing. In any business, you should be prepared to win business on reputation, quality of service and, occasionally, price. The worst thing you can do is try and emulate what a competitor is doing, rather than concentrating on what you do well. As long as you are demonstrably better than the competition, or have a different approach, then nine times out of ten you will win.
Competition is good. It makes you work harder, wanting to keep yourself ahead of your competitors. There is a certain schadenfreude to be had in hearing about the demise of a competitor, providing this means that you continue to strive to offer best service and value for money, rather than resting on your laurels.
The most inspiring athletes during this amazing summer of sport have been those who have worked hardest, harder than the rest, to make sure that they are the best in what they did. No complaining about external influences (4 x 100m runners and Premiership footballers take note), just a desire to make sure that mistakes made previously are not made again.
The touchy feely do-gooders in our society are trying to eradicate competition in schools, even after the Olympics and Paralympics. They claim that those children who aren’t physically the biggest or the strongest will become disillusioned about not winning. These are probably people who weren’t good at sports at schools, but they miss the point completely. There are few better feelings than being an important part of a winning team, the great feeling that you get when you win a game. But even as individuals, competition is important. Life is a competition; doing well in exams, further education, winning the man or woman of your dreams, getting your perfect job.
Interviews are a competitive process. It is highly unlikely that you will be the only person being interviewed for a job, certainly at the initial stage. The BEST person for the job gets the job, jobs are not allocated on a charity basis. If you do not understand and embrace the dynamics of that competition, you will not get on, and you will not achieve your dreams and goals. Competition and being competitive allows you the opportunity of becoming better, and should be embraced, not consigned to the scrap heap of history.