3 Valuable Things I Learned By Appreciating My Competition

Throughout my life, my mother would comment that I didn’t really know how to be jealous. Of course, I wanted things I didn’t have and I even remember the very specific memories of being sad that other girls had bikes, dolls, college tuition, boyfriends, and confidence. However, I was always more inclined to appreciate their successes rather than dismiss them or dismiss myself. I just wanted to learn from them. It actually may have been a survival instinct that saved me from ending up a jealous person. As an only child of divorced parents, I had to find my own way in the world. So if I wanted to have it or be it, I did everything I could to learn from it. Jealousy or ill-will would have literally slowed me down. And I learned a little secret: anyone I considered to be my competition (and therefore, “better” than me) almost always considered me to be their competition as well. So instead of fighting it out, I decided it would be more worth my while to learn from them and grow.

Here are three valuable lessons I learned that can help you learn from your competition and get over any ill feelings at the same time. This kind of positivity and appreciation is incredibly productive. And, in reality, we’ll all compete with someone at some point.

Your competition is actually your road map. Watch them closely to find the best route.

Whether they are a person or a business, your competition is actually going through almost the same challenges and growth as you. Why? Because they are similar enough to you to be your competition in the first place. They’ve essentially carved a path to where you want to be and shown that it’s possible to get there. This is a unique opportunity to gain perspective on yourself because you see another entity that is like you but has already achieved what you want to achieve. Be objective. See what  methods they used that lead to their successes. Contrast those methods that with the methods available to you and find a better way of getting there that is more authentically you. As a business owner, I have a choice to say “I can't believe business X has so many followers for their silly version of my product!” or I can say “Hmmm, they have a lot of followers. What are they doing that is so trendy? If I want the same number of followers, I should see what trend my product fits well in.” Similarly, I have the choice to say “I wish people loved me like they like Jessica” or I can say “Jessica leaves a lot of time for her friends. What can I offer my friends so that we can love one another mutually?” What’s interesting is that if you actually find a better way to get from A to B, you will actually surpass your competition. So keep your mind open to learning from them!

Your competition is like your big sister. You want to be just like her but you’ll learn to be your own person at the same time.

Just like you might compete with your big sister, your competition can actually give you the opportunity to find your place. Sometimes, the reason you don’t think you’ve ‘made it’ like your competition has is because you don’t even know what your end goal is. It’s common to get caught up on how your high school friends now have a husband and two kids when the single you doesn’t even know if you’re done travelling the world yet. I always found that even if I was completely lost in my life, the people who were one step ahead, carrying the torch, made me question the route I was on. I could see the challenges they set themselves up for and could decide whether or not they were for me. At some point, I wanted to go to Law School. Everyone who passed the LSAT exam became my God. I watched them go through the motions as I followed behind until I realized the life of a Lawyer and the study of Law in my part of the world was not for me at all. Instead, I studied Analysis. So as you follow the route your competition lays out, don’t forget to look up to see if you want to go where it’s taking you. Over time, you’ll slowly find your own place.

Your competition will not always be ahead of you. Consider what you’ve done right in comparison.

This might be the most important lesson of all and yet, one that even I don’t consider often enough. You get so caught up on how your competition is better than you and how you should be trying to learn from them that you forget all the things you’ve done well. When you’re chasing big dreams, stop and look at your competition to determine what is working for you. At some point, I was upset I wasn’t able to leapfrog to a better paying job while others seemed to do it so easily. Instead, I was going up the ladder, one step at a time. It took a while for me to realize that the experiences I gained as I made my way up the ladder were more rich than the experiences of those who missed the ‘steps’. It was those experiences that allowed me to understand all facets of starting my own business and my dream career. Sometimes, you just are doing things right but you only start to understand that when you compare yourself with your competition. Just make sure to appreciate what you’re competition can offer you, especially when you have to live with it.



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