I work in several competitive spaces:
- I host a podcast about podcasting (The Audacity to Podcast), and there are a few others;
- I offer one-on-one consulting, and there are many others who offer the same services;
- I host a Once Upon a Time podcast (ONCE podcast), and there are more than a dozen others; and
- I'm a web designer, public speaker, and presentation designer, and you know there are tens of thousands of others like that.
There are many ways I'm tempted to feel competitive or approach others with a competitive attitude. Here are five steps I follow to address my perspective, especially as it relates to content-creators on the Internet.
1. Admit that you feel competitive
Don't be naive about competition. You may want to pretend that you're not in competition with others, but the actual facts are undeniable. If you do a similar thing as others, that makes you competition with each other.
Sometimes, you just have to admit to yourself or others around you. Sometimes, this may even mean acknowledging to your competition that you recognize your place.
But this is your first step to set things right. Competition is a good thing in business. It drives companies to innovate. But if you stay feeling competitive, you'll eventually start feeling antagonistic about others.
2. Recognize this as a sign of success
If you have no competition, then you either have a monopoly, or you're magical enough to make something work that no one else can.
Look at others in your niche as an indication that the niche is maturing and has great potential.
Even if someone else is finding huge success in your field, this doesn't mean they're stealing from you. This shows you some of the potential you could have in that same niche if you really put yourself into it.
3. Foster a community
Several people doing similar things can work more effectively when they team up and work together. Look for ways that you can create a community between you and your competition. Acknowledge their successes and the unique experience they bring to the field. Invite them to contribute to what you're doing.
In content-creation, the subject is covered much better when more people cover it from their different perspectives. It's like making a three-dimensional object—running all the processes from only one side returns an incomplete product. But let each person approach with their specialties from their angle, and you'll have a thorough result that aids the consumer much better.
4. Look for how you can improve
Consider the smartphone wars. Apple and Google are fierce competition with their mobile operating systems. But this competition has forced each company to find new ways of improving their own products.
Yes, this sometimes leads to patent wars, too. But others times it leads to outside-the-box thinking, such as Microsoft did with it's Windows Phone operating system that is quite different from iOS or Android.
Find what's working for others but don't copy it; look for how you can make something similar—or even completely different—work for you, too. If someone else offers specialized training, maybe you could also offer specialized training but on a different subject.
5. Commit to having character
Your competition won't always respond well to you. In my fields, I have some “competition” who are now close friends and we frequently refer people to each other. But some of my other “competition” won't play nice.
This is where you have to commit to be the better person by continuing your practice in honor and respect. This may even be a public behavior by recognizing the others when relevant and appropriate, or encourage your content-consumers to also check out what others are doing in the same field.
How do you deal with competitiveness? I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.