Characters of Competition

Read time: 2 mins

“Your competitor tomorrow may be completely different from your competitor today. It’s out of your control. What’s the point of worrying about things you can’t control?”

Jason Fried and David Hansson, Rework


Competition is all around you. A competitor might be a company in your industry, your favorite sports team’s rival, or the candidate that applies from the same job as you. But there are far more characters of competition than competitors.

Characters of competition are hidden. Take these 3 examples.

1. Losing a sale to a “competitor”

Two companies could offer the same solution. Let’s go with IBM and Apple. Both sell computers. The consumer, named Carl, buys an IBM. Apple could obsess over the loss an attribute it to IBM building a better computer.

However, Carl didn’t buy an IBM because it was a better computer. Carl just got laid off from his job and needs to support his family. The MacIntosh computer is priced higher than IBM. The character of competition is Carl’s budget - not that IBM is better at building computers.

2. Your Favorite Team Loses a Recruit to Your Rival

You love UNC basketball. But the top recruit in the nation, Wally Pipp, just signed a letter of intent with your hated rival Duke. Duke must be the better program, have the better coach, and be the better team in a year.

It’s not the case. Wally Pipp did not choose Duke because its better than UNC. He chose Duke because a returning player, that plays his position, broke his ankle and is out for all of next season. It doesn’t even have to do with coach, program, or academics. Playing time is lead role in the competition for the recruit. And it just so happens it lies with Duke.

3. You Lost the Job to a More Experienced Candidate

It must be the experience. John has 6 years experience, and you own 4. If you had more experience, you would of gotten the gig. But that’s not why you lost the job.

John is the brother in-law of the hiring manager. John is familiar, and it’s why he was chosen for the job. The hiring manager delivered a favor and hired John. And not you.

You weren’t competing against John. You were competing against familiarity. This character of competition is undefeated. Because it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.


Notice in these 3 examples - all could obsess over the competitor. But it’s never worth it.

Because the characters of competition change everyday. Your competitor tomorrow is not your competitor today.



Rock onThanks for reading!

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