Phil is sitting in my office with complete determination that he is going to do whatever it takes to grow his business. We have the typical conversation. He believes he brings a lot of value to his customers. I agree with him. People need the service he has to offer. I ask him a simple question, “So how much would you like to make in a year?”
He pauses, looks down, then answers, “I would be happy with $200,000.”
“Great. Now how much would you spend to make $200,000?” I ask.
He answers, “I don’t know. Maybe $5,000”
I look at him and ask, “So, would you agree that investing $5,000 to make $200,000 is a great investment?” He acknowledges it.
Then I say, “Well, let’s get started then.” The excuses start. Theory now turns into truth. Is Phil for real? When the conversation lingered around possibilities, opportunities and the intangible, Phil showed exuberance and boldness.
However, the conversation got focused to action quickly. Action is what matters.
Phil is not an anomaly. He is what Thoreau spoke about – “Most men live lives of quiet desperation.” He wants something, but he does not pursue it with action. Instead, he lives with the gap in his existence. He settles for what he does not want – a lesser life and elusive dreams.
We have spent thousands of hours with business professionals and have learned that everyone comes to a moment of belief like Phil. They manage others and themselves with what they believe they will step into. However, when the moment of truth arrives, they miss the opportunity which awaits.
However, there are those few who want to win; the very few that is. They live according to their desire to win, thus they are living life rather than merely getting through the day. They are inhaling deeply.
Your competition is not as hard to beat as you think. Here are the things required to separate yourself from your competition:
1. Pay A Price: It is amazing how many people have an illusion in their head. They think that they can gain much advantage without a cost. Everything costs. A simple thing like negotiating a car dealer down a thousand dollars costs the car dealer a thousand dollars. However, you are not asking how the person will keep their business functioning or meet their payroll and inventory management. The cost got pushed to the person who sought to bring value rather than the person who wants what they want.
2. Welcome Work: Remember this, the harder something appears to be, the better. It means that anyone wanting to compete with you has to overcome the same hardships. I like what one person stated, ”Don’t overestimate your competition and don’t underestimate yourself.” Knowing that very few people are willing to pay a price or work hard means that those that do will reap a reward others will have difficulty stepping into. Your attitude is everything.
3. Persevere: Much of life is luck. Gary Player said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” He understood that preparation, hard work and paying a price is necessary. However, there are a lot of moving parts in business and life. Other people, market conditions, cultural mindshifts, and a host of other factors create complexity. Psychological testing has shown that human beings are not comfortable with randomness. We believe we have control. The truth is that it is hard to hit a bullseye. In actuality, we get close and when the opportunities for luck hit, as they always do, then we should be positioned to take advantage of becoming lucky. Perseverance is a mindset which winners inherently have.
I loved watching a movie about Steve Prefontaine. He was an American distance runner who was known for his fierce competitiveness. He told a person once, “Do you know why I win? Because I know I will take more pain than anyone else.”
People pursuing comfort will never do the things above. Thus, their lives are of quiet desperation. The gap between where they are and what they want will always be their reality. It takes a completely different mindset.
If you will dare to invest in yourself and pay a price, then you are separating yourself from your competition. They will have to pay the same price if they want to compete. Don’t live your life on hope. Live it on purpose. Base it in reality. If you don’t pay a price, the person who does will be looking behind at you. If you don’t choose to learn new things and work hard, your unseen competition will only drive a further wedge into your feeling of inadequacy.
I love cost. It creates opportunity for me. I know each time I pay the price, it creates a greater gap between me and my competition. May you take action to do likewise.