The Daily Juice
By Julia Bickerstaff - Tuesday, July 10, 2012
With the London Olympics just around the corner, I’ve been soaking up all sorts of Athletics statistics. One of my favourite discoveries is this:
In 1972, at Munich, Valery Borzov won the Mens 100m in a time of 10.14 seconds. That time is 0.02 slower than the Qualifying time for the London Olympics (10.12 seconds). This means that every male 100m runner at the London games will be faster than the gold medal winner 40 years earlier.
How did this happen? How did we humans improve so much in the last 40 years? Well there’s a bit of sport science, probably a few drugs under the carpet somewhere, but most of all it’s because there’s competition.
When we don’t have much competition we settle for being just a little bit better than the rest. We do just enough to be ‘good’. We don’t reach our full potential because no-one is pushing us.
When there’s lots of competition we have to try very hard to be better than everyone else. And it’s this very sense of competition that gives us the energy to learn, practise, experiment and improve. In a nutshell, the more competition we have, the better we get.
Let’s be honest, in small business land we don’t exactly welcome competitors with open arms. It’s irritating when someone else starts up on our patch doing what we do. And it’s insanely so when they have the audacity to do it a little better than us.
But what do we do then? Sulk, have a little whinge with some dear friends, and then......we pull our socks up. We don’t want to be outdone, we know we can do better and we get on with it.
Often the stuff we need to do to make a difference is quite small. It’s the stuff we know we should do but, ugh, can’t quite be bothered. We’ve slacked off returning calls quickly, getting deliveries out in a tight turnaround, writing our blog.....we’re still doing a good job, But we aren’t doing a great one.
You might not have had a new competitor step into the scene recently, in which case you wouldn’t have had this wake up call. If this sounds like you then today’s tip is to find two or three competitors and go and have a snoop around at what they are doing.
- What are they doing better than me?
- Being achingly honest, are they doing an overall better job than me?
- What can I do differently to edge my business in front of them?
You may have heard people say “ignore your competition” . Certainly it doesn’t pay to obsess about every move that your competitors make, but do you really think we’d have a current 100m world record (Usain Bolt) of 9.58 seconds if runners hadn’t been keeping an eye on each other over the last 40 years?
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