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It's easy to get caught up with what everyone else is doing, to try and guess what's in their heads or what their strategy is for the way forward. People and companies all over the world spend countless hours and bundles of money trying to figure out what the other guy is doing or going to do rather than focus on the important thing, what are they themselves going to do
When I was in high school I wasn't great at sports, I was Ok, but not a standout and certainly not one of the ones who would be picked 1st for a rugby or football for example. Then came winter cross country running. I'd never actually ran in a race before, I'd run for a bus or chased after friends when playing games or the ball when playing a game of football but not running just to run.
It turns out I was pretty good at it, the very 1st run I did I broke a 5-year-old school record for the course beating the previous time by a little over a minute and so my running obsession was born. It continued through the rest of high school and University, I loved cross country season, the muddier the better I always thought, it sounds strange but running through a foot of mud in the rain when it's only 5 degrees C doesn't sound fun but trust me it was heaven. Then came track season and I started running 1500m, getting my time down to 3mins 54 was really pleasing but I loved the longer runs and soon found I was running the 10km races more and more.
I always remember my coach in the early days asking me and getting fairly frustrated with me at times "What's with all the looking around you and behind you?", I'm checking out the competition so I know what they are doing so I'm ready to react to them was my reply. It didn't wash, pretty quickly there was a finger prodding at my temple, the only race you run is yours, you focus on what you do and not them, that's how you win you Run Your Own Race. He must have drummed this into me, and those in my coaching squad I don't know how often but it stuck.
Soon I was running not thinking about the rest of the guys in the race, it was just me vs the clock. A strange thing happens at the point in a runner's head, my head anyway, you just zone out, it's called flow. That's the point where the run is effortless, you stride on in hitting your marks that you've set before the run, 3-4 mins for the 1st Km, aim for the 5Km mark by 22mins, check, and so it goes on. The minute you start worrying about the pace or the stride length of the other runner you are running their race, not yours, not the one you have trained for and you are more likely going to lose.
I see the same thing in businesses all over the place. Companies forget why they are doing what they are doing. They get sucked in by the fear, what if they get to market before us, what if they are cheaper, they start to measure the things that their competitor measures because that's how it's done or hire people who used to work there and so on. A chunk of money is spent trying to understand what Company X does better than you. If only you could figure out their secret sauce.
The problem is, while you are trying to compete with them, to run their race, you are losing yours. You have either forgotten your own strategy or worse, started out without one in the 1st place. You have forgotten that the reason you're in this race, your WHY is not the same as your competitors so your people have developed differently, your tools, your processes and of course your products so why would you run their race?
Success comes when you focus on your business and understand firstly why you are there, what was it that made you start the business or what was it about the business that made you want to join this one? Once you have this then it's easy to start getting your strategy aligned so get you to the finish line your after.
Set your measures & goals for what you need to meet ensuring that are aligned to your reason for existing & where you are going. Use Leading measures not lag measures to ensure you hit the targets, if I want to hit a 50min 10Km run (the lag measure) then I know that I need to average a 5min per Km (the lead measure) to get there and I need to train to be able to do it consistently each and every time.
Every time you compete against yourself and focus on you and your team you will improve your company and get better results. It's all stuff you can control and gives everyone in the organisation focus, ownership and accountability, if you stuff up your race then it's your doing... own it
It's not easy to make that change and focus really hard on your or your organisation's results but when you do you will Run Your Own Race and improve.
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