Monthly Archives: Aug 2016

Competitiveness

compete

What does being competitive mean?

On one level, it’s an issue of QUALITY. Are you (or your products/services) good enough to compete against others?

On another, though, it’s about ATTITUDE.

How badly do you want to win?

This isn’t just semantics. It’s integral to the concept. Because of…

The Exponential Nature of Competition

Here’s something that people who haven’t competed at a high level don’t quite understand.

The intensity of competitiveness grows exponentially, the closer you get to the goal.

In other words, it’s easier to get from 80% to 95% than it is to go from 95% to 96% – and then, it just keeps getting worse!

In the high-demand entrance tests to medical schools in India, scores are reported to the FOURTH decimal point, suggesting that for every mark increment, there are potentially 10,000 more contenders!

That’s brutal competition, by any standard.

What Does It Take To Be So Competitive?

Is it quality alone?

I don’t think so. After all, each candidate taking the test is comparable on that score.

To understand what sets some of them apart, I’ll quote this excerpt from a book by Olympic swimming champion Don Schollander, “Not The Triumph, But The Struggle”:

“In top competition a whole new ingredient enters swimming – pain.

“You learn the pain in practice and you will know it in every race. It begins as you approach the limit of your endurance, coming on gradually, hitting your stomach first. Your arms grow heavy and your legs tighten – the thighs, the knees.

“You sink lower in the water, as if someone were pushing down on your back. You can’t hold yourself up. Your perception changes. The sounds of the pool blend and become a roar in your ears. The water takes on a pinkish tinge. Your stomach feels as though it’s going to fall out; every kick hurts like hell – and suddenly you hear a shrill, internal scream.

Then you have a choice. You can back off, or you can force yourself to drive to the finish, knowing that the pain will become excruciating. Right there, the great competitors separate from the rest, for it’s those last few meters that count.

This passage encapsulates the reality of hyper-competitiveness.

The evidence lies in the spread of marks in highly competitive tests and sports.

Those who raced away into the final sprint had no real competition left to beat. They distanced themselves from the rest of the pack, and sped far ahead.

But how could that happen?

Weren’t the others just as competitive?

Not really.

Because, as Schollander says:

“Most swimmers back away. If you push through the pain barrier into real agony, you’re a champion.”

The only way to do that – is to WANT TO WIN badly!

By the way, many competitive people have already read my book. Have you?

Our next article is about a butterfly’s struggle – and a powerful lesson on how it brings out YOUR very best. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.

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What Happened To… ?

growup

It’s the eternal question.

Billions of parents have asked it across history.

“Where Did The Years Go?”

As our little one prepares for college, that’s what my wife and I ask each other.

What Happened To…

  • The tiny infant who’d cuddle over your shoulder, or rock to sleep in your lap.
  • The toddler who’d demand to get out of her pram – only to then plead to be picked up and carried, because “baby can’t walk”.
  • The kindergarten kid who’d run up to you to “help tie my shoelaces, please”.
  • The trusting little child who’d slip her hand into yours for safety while crossing the road.

How – and when – did that helpless, demanding, vulnerable little thing morph into a self-assured, confident, independent young woman?

I can’t point to a moment or event that made it happen. It was a process. With ups and downs, troubles and tribulations, stress and heartbreak.

But what came out of the melting pot is pure gold.

And I’m proud of being one of the alchemists behind the transformation we call…

“Growing Up!”

P.S. – If you’re all grown up already, then read my book. (Oh, it’s ok to read it while you’re growing up, too!)

Our next article will analyze what real competitiveness is all about – and help you understand the mindset of a champion. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.

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What Makes You Tick?

tick

“Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb. You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don’t make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.”  – Hugh “GapingVoid” MacLeod

A recent chance remark by an associate got me thinking… about what makes me tick.

You see, I have this track record of “chasing and changing” targets.

  • I specialized in an uncommon field of medicine, becoming one of barely 50 dedicated practitioners in India
  • Then, in a completely unrelated field, I became one of the top 50 specialists in the world
  • I took up an ambitious non-profit effort that seemed “impossible”, and got it to work well enough to fund 125 heart surgeries for kids
  • I built a rather profitable business – and could have grown even bigger, if I had continued to develop it

But after doing these things… I’ve given up on them!

To pursue something else.

Many people think that’s CRAZY! (Maybe they’re right)

But I’ve written a novel. Consulted with a start-up company. Charged $500 to write an article. And raised huge amounts for charity by conducting special events.

To my way of thinking, the “conventional success” of reaching the very top in a very restricted area of expertise sounds… very dull.

I truly admire (and even envy) those of my peers who can perform delicate, complex operations day in and day out. To me, doing that the first time is an exciting thrill. Developing a system to replicate it is a worthy challenge. But running that unit on a day-to-day basis would be a bore!

That’s just me. Because I find a challenge far more exciting than the result!

It’s why I dabble in other things. A new specialty. A novel line of interests. An unproven idea.

The challenge of pushing hard against my own limits, seeing how far I can go, learning and growing to make that effort… those are what keep me eager, hungry, raring to wake up every morning and get going.

A little more money in the bank, a little more fame and reknown, a little more “success” in a field I’ve already tried and mastered (or failed)… these don’t excite me quite as much.

So, I figure, that’s the reason I flit and fleet from one challenge to the next.

That’s what makes me tick.

You?

If you too like to flit from one challenge to the next, you’ll enjoy reading my book.

Our next article is a poignant post about growing up – and it may even make you a wee bit nostalgic. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.

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Stop Complaining!

complain

I was once a big complainer“Whiner” could have been my middle name! Just about anything was grist for my mill.

I’d complain…

  • About my work and my colleagues.
  • About politics and the economy.
  • About match-fixing in sports and bias in news reporting.
  • And everything else.

Then, one fine day, I suddenly stopped.

Can’t recall any particular reason why. It just struck me that complaining all the time about everything was turning me into a cynical, bitter person. So I decided to change.

Ever since then, it amazes me how different things look from the “other side”.

While complaining, I always imagined how “reasonable, rational and logical” I must have seemed to others. The case I made out for myself was always based on “facts, rules and norms”. There was no way anyone seeing how sound my stance was could disagree with me, or take another view of the situation.

Only when I stopped did it hit me in the face like a dash of ice-cold water…

Complaining only made me look like a fool!

When you’re whinging, not many truly agree with you. Or understand you. Or appreciate you. Nobody thinks you’re cool, smart or fair because you’re bringing up clever arguments to explain why everything’s wrong about your world.

At best, they tolerate you. At worst, they wish they could strangle you!

Because while it’s true the squeaky wheel gets the grease, it’s also true that squeaking itself doesn’t stop the noise…

You’ve got to apply the grease!

Let’s face it – the world dislikes a whining, groaning, unhappy wretch who’s focused eternally on what’s broken or wrong with the universe… instead of just buckling down and getting it FIXED!  (Or, at least, trying to.)

Be THAT guy or gal. Fix things. Don’t complain about them.

Please!

It’s more fun that way, too.

Speaking of complaining, my book hasn’t received much of that. See why.

Our next article looks at what REALLY makes you tick – your motivations, your ambition, your purpose. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.

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Without Real Competition

“The toughest steel is forged in the hottest fire.”

competition

Steel can only be forged in a furnace. Without exposure to extremely high temperatures, the metal wouldn’t be quite as strong.

Coal becomes a glittering diamond only after being crushed by intense pressure for thousands of years.

Competition is the stress that brings out the best in us humans.

It reveals the steel in your psyche. It exposes the diamond at your core.

This raises some concerns about today’s youngsters, who seemingly face stiffer competition, but in reality have it a lot easier than in the past.

Back when I was in high school, those who wanted to become engineers had only 3 universities to choose from. If you didn’t get into one, you changed career choices… out of compulsion!

So one had to work hard. Study desperately. And get lucky.

Otherwise, you didn’t get the career you dreamed of.

Fast forward to today. The biggest ‘problem’ for aspiring engineers is whether their chosen branch will be available in a college in their own home town – or if they’ll be forced to move to another city!

Everyone who wants an engineering college seat can get one – only the price and place will change. That’s not “competitive”.

Now what will happen when they face a really competitive environment somewhere down the line?

No matter where you are at this point in your career, “This is the easiest life is going to get!”

It’s true. These relatively minor struggles are meant to prepare you for the far tougher challenges to follow. It’s best to look on it as training – for life.

Without the pressure building up gradually, how will your inner diamond harden and shine? 

Without turning up the heat to an almost intolerable level, how will the steel in your soul toughen and grow strong?

Without this battle, this competition, this struggle to survive, thrive and excel…

Without it all, how will you become a real winner?

P.S. – If you don’t like too much competition or stress, you might enjoy my book.

Our next article is in the nature of an appeal to those who complain endlessly – and it makes a compelling case. To get notified when we post it… join our email list.

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