It was Spring and I was finishing my 10th year of school. Next year I’d be a Junior but for now, I was a Sophmore and our Track & Field event was coming up. I was attending a small school with grades from 1st thru 10th. So I and my classmates were the oldest and biggest kids in the school.
I decided I’d practice for the mile run. I wanted to come in first and to do so I’d need to do some training. Nothing special, I didn’t have a coach or access to the internet (it didn’t exist yet) to find some great training plan. I simply ran a mile every day after school and using my stopwatch as a guide and tried to get faster with each run.
As I recall I spent two or three weeks preparing for the mile run. Nothing great but I was running faster and I was hoping that none of the other kids were training. If they didn’t train I knew I’d be able to win.
The big day arrived. I competed in all the regular events, high jump, 100-yard dash, shot put, etc. It was a small school so we just did all the events for fun. It was like a big day-long recess for us and we had a great time.
Time for the mile run. One of my classmates Tim, who always had fashionable clothes and today was no exception. He was dressed in the latest sportswear. Me, old tennis shoes that I wore to school every day, a tee-shirt, and shorts.
Since I’d seen Tim that morning he’d started talking about how fast he was at the mile and how he was going to win. That got me worried. Had he trained, how much had he trained and oh my, could he do it faster then I could?
After being around Tim and going to school with him since 1st grade I knew I could out sprint him. So I decided I would simply try and keep up with him through the race and then out sprint him to the finish line.
As the race started I kept pace with Tim as the distance between us and the rest of the pack grew. About two laps in it dawned on me that I was having no trouble keeping pace with Tim. What was his strategy? He couldn’t beat me in a sprint. Was he going to make his move on the last lap and get so far ahead I couldn’t catch up?
That’s when I realized I was playing his game instead of playing my own game. So I picked up the pace and started running my own race. By the time I started sprinting to the finish line there was no need to sprint to win as Tim was a good quarter lap back, but simply to improve my own time.
Yes, I won the race but yet I lost. Here’s how. I won the race but lost because I competed with Tim and not myself. Instead of just going out there and doing my best, playing my game, I adjusted to what I thought was his game. As a result, I finished with a slower time than if I’d just run the race on my own terms. That’s how I lost. I didn’t’ do my best because I was focused on the competition.
How often do you find yourself paying attention to the competition? Is it possible that you are getting off your own game plan and instead getting distracted by the competition? Why not just focus on what you do best?
The goal is to differentiate yourself by doing what you do best. If you get distracted as I did with Tim you still might win but you’ll shortchange yourself and your clients by not being and doing your best.
Stop paying attention to the competition and do what you do best to serve your clients. Then keep looking for ways to improve how you serve your clients. It will lead to more winning. A win-win for both you and your clients!