The world we live in is becoming increasingly competitive with more and more people chasing after the same number of finite opportunities. Regardless of the field of play- sports, business, career, entertainment, politics and ministry among others, the demands for opportunities to gain and retain customers, attract patronage to one's cause, secure votes from the electorate, get to the top, emerge successful at bids for contracts, jobs interviews and competitive events far outstrip their supply.
Many other people are actively vying for the same opportunities and favourable outcomes that you are gunning for. Thousands of other applicants are interested in the same dream jobs or business contracts you are aiming for. Thousands of other authors like you are vying for their books to be bought by the same set of readers you are targeting. Thousands of other businesses are competing with you for the patronage of the same set of customers in your field. A thousand and one other sportsmen and artistes are working towards winning the same medals and endorsement you so much desire. Thousands of others, just like yourself are positioning themselves for the best jobs in the land, the topmost positions in their field and the highest returns obtainable in their enterprise.
How then do you secure competitive advantage in the midst of stiff competition? How can you become well suited for competition in your field? In essence what can you do to gain an edge over the competitions so as to cause valued opportunities to gravitate towards you thereby achieving favourable outcomes in the process? Let me share with you ten vital keys to enhancing your competitiveness in life.
1. Commit to excellence.
Be excellence-driven. Cultivate a passion for excellence. Insist on it. Pursue excellence rather than success, by so doing you will achieve both. Invest in becoming excellent at what you do. Develop a reputation for delivering outstanding service, performance and results. Strive to be among the best in your field. The demands may be hard but the rewards will compensate for the sacrifices made in the long run. Excellence, more than any other factor, will help you overcome barriers to achieving favourable outcomes in your field of play. Excellence enhances your value. It will secure for you recognition and with recognition comes patronage. Outstanding results will make you stand out from the crowd. The best in any field do gain at the expense of the rest. Average and poor performance by contrast make you less competitive.
2. Be opportunity-aware.
In the world we live, the informed succeed. You cannot afford to be uninformed if you must remain competitive in your field. In Benjamin Disraeli's observation, "As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.” Being adequately informed on what opportunities there are, where they are and what to do to appropriate them will confer enormous advantage on you. Information is the currency of today's world. It is to your advantage that you know not only what is going on in the world but also where the world is going- as it relates to your field.
Strive to remain relevant to the needs of your patrons- employers, customers, clients, voters, fans, followers etc. Become indispensable to them. Become a person whose skills, knowledge, attributes, products, services or contributions your patrons will value and cannot do without. As long as you are meeting their needs, you will not lack patronage and opportunities. To remain relevant, it is necessary to be sufficiently knowledgeable about your current and potential patrons- their needs, values, fears, preferences, concerns, goals, interests and challenges and to build your service-delivery around those. Constantly help them achieve their goals-to make more money, achieve happiness, prevent or solve problems etc.
4. Increase your value-perception.
It is not enough for you to be valuable, it is necessary for others to perceive you as valuable. It is important you continuously enhance not only your value but your value-perception as well in order to remain competitive in the market place. To attract favourable responses from your patrons you need to convince them you have something of value which they may not find readily in your competitors. Different things can influence stakeholders to perceive you as being valuable- professionalism, outstanding results, track record, appropriate packaging, commitment, passion, experience, testimonials, and endorsements among many others. Be associated with such.
5. Be unique.
The market place out there is a crowded field, you need to do everything possible to stand out from the crowd to boost your chances of success. Offer to people what other players in your field cannot readily offer them. In life and in business whatever makes you unique will make you sell and out-compete your contemporaries. There are certain things are peculiar about you- your talents, your passion, your calling, your interests, and your strengths; identify them and leverage on them for distinction. Find your niche. Pursue your passion. Labour in your area of expertise.Be creative. Innovate, where you cannot invent. Many of the world's great men were able to beat the odds because their life pursuits were centered around their passion. Develop valuable but uncommon competencies- knowledge, skills, attributes, brand and reputation that will make you stand out from the crowd and for which people out there would be prepared to compensate you. What additional benefits can you offer, different from your competitors'? By all means stand out from the crowd- from other job applicants, employees, entrepreneurs, players, contestants, authors etc.
6. Always be prepared.
Abraham Lincoln famously said, "I will prepare myself before my opportunity comes and when my opportunity comes, I will prepare myself." Because life-changing opportunities, just like challenges often come unannounced they are best maximized when the person to whom they accrue is well prepared to utilize them. Being prepared at all times is a proof of commitment. You cannot claim to be committed to a cause unless you are always prepared to handle responsibilities relating to the cause. A principal reason why the committed ultimately rise to the peak in their field is because they are always prepared. They are always in a state required to perform their responsibilities and produce desired results whenever occasion demands it. By living prepared, they are in a vantage position to respond decisively to opportunities whenever they come. In actual sense, opportunities tend to gravitate towards the prepared.
7. Connect with others.
Be a team player, not a lone ranger. Leverage on help from others. The most important thing is for you to succeed; who you share the credit of your success with is of less importance. Give others opportunities to be part of your success. Network with others, even with your co-players. All beneficial relationships have multiplier effects. Relationships create platform for people to exchange information, share ideas and pull resources together. Tap from other people's wealth of experience. Learn from their successes, failures and mistakes. Be humble and courageous enough to ask for help. Seek expert advice. Go for counselling. Similarly, you need to help others to succeed; you will achieve your own success in the course of helping others achieve theirs.
8. Go for inspiration.
Information is vital but so is inspiration. Thomas Alva Edison famously attributed success to 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration but without the proportionally little 2% inspiration, success will be elusive. Be constantly inspired, challenged and motivated; without it, mediocrity is inevitable. There are thousands, even millions of individuals who have once stood on the same spot you now stand, who have dreamt the same dream you now hold and who succeeded in turning those dreams into pleasant realities. Listen to their stories and be inspired by them. Draw inspiration from the success of others, role-mentors, rags to riches cases and all those who defy the odds to make a success of their lives, knowing that if they can, you too can. You need inspiration because discouragement will come. You don't even have to do anything wrong for discouragement, criticism, mockery, setbacks and oppositions to come. You need constant inspiration to enable you persevere in the face of all such difficulties. Draw inspiration from your own goals and aspirations. Envision a better and brighter tomorrow. Let your past successes spur you on to greater successes.
9. Be future-minded.
Out-compete your contemporaries by thinking and planning ahead of them. Those who see, think, and plan ahead, get ahead of others. Those who don’t see ahead are left behind. By constantly thinking ahead, you do not only get ahead, you will equally stay ahead. Constantly envisage future problems, challenges, needs and opportunities and begin to prepare for them. Have realistic plans for your life 1, 5, 10 or 20 years from now. Prepare for tomorrow before it becomes today. Think long-term. Be futuristic in your approach to issues, by so doing, you will be influenced to take decisions that result in long-term rewards. Assign greater priority to objectives that have long-term benefits than those with immediate or short-term benefits. Build your enterprise to last. Do not in an attempt to gain immediate or short term benefits compromise your values, ethics, principles and moral codes. Exercise foresight. Think stability. Think durability. Think continuity. The future will arrive sooner than you think. Approach life as a marathon, not as a sprint. Live purposeful life. Be goal-driven. That you are not there today does not mean imply you won't be there tomorrow. Identify current trends in your field.
10. Be persistent.
Those who do not notice you today will eventually notice you tomorrow. The opportunities that do not come your way today will come your way tomorrow; but only if you persist. You won't get there in a day but daily. Through your persistence, you stand to put to silence any opposition, critics, mockers and cynics. When you persist, you stand to eventually overtake your competitors.