And what is YOUR Competitive Advantage?

Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California, November, 2002

"Thank God for competition. When our competitors upset our plans or outdo our designs, they open infinite possibilities of our own work to us."~ Gil Atkinson

Amazing how contradicting the exciting viewpoints are on so many different topics. Take business and management: on one hand we are encouraged to be gentle, to cooperate, and to enhance togetherness, while on the other we are taught about the die-heart competition in the political arena called the job market, which requires us to continuously sharpen our skills in order to stay abreast of changing demands.

And yet, both perspectives make sense depending on the way we perceive matters: the first perspective may apply better toward our performance as part of a work team in our job environment, while the second theory stands tall as an overall advice towards the very establishment and subsequent maintenance of ourselves in today's world.

So now that both schools are justified, let's focus on the latter: Establishing and maintaining your presence. An immediate thought that comes to mind when bringing this up is the fact that it doesn't matter in what field you are executing your skills. In fact it doesn't even matter whether it's a work-, personal-, or leisure-related scene you're focusing on: You'll have to move ahead, otherwise you'll be run over. At work your skills will become outdated, in your love life you'll become a favorite yet finished book to your partner, and in pleasant time wasting activities you'll become a plain old bore if you remain static.

For all of the areas mentioned above the crucial thing to do is, finding your competitive advantage: that one skill, characteristic, or way of acting you have that makes you unique in the eyes of others. It's the development and maintenance of this competitive advantage that will enable you to outperform rivals. Extremely important to realize here also is that "the ability to learn faster than your competitors may be only sustainable competitive advantage" (Arie de Geus).

As recommended in previous articles, people should not be approached differently from organizations, as the tactics of survival for both are basically the same. So what's YOUR competitive advantage? What is it that makes YOU stand out? In order to discover that you should consider the following issues

1. What do I really want from this project, person, or play?
2. What are the threatening factors and figures here?
3. How would I be able to make a great impression and outperform rivals?
4. How can I further develop my skills in a way that it will lastingly attract my target?
5. What can possibly change the status quo, and how can I anticipate?

As well as these pillars work for business organizations, as well will they for you.
So, incorporate them within your approach toward everything- and your legacy is set!

Various (Unknown). TPCN - Great Quotations. 2000 Cyber Nation International, Inc. Available: [2002, Nov. 24].