“Honor Thy Competitor” – Rafa and Roger Style

“Honor Thy Competitor” – Rafa and Roger Style


It Didn’t Go Five Sets… 

… but yesterday’s men’s final at Roland Garros was beautiful.

Nadal and Federer, on clay, in early summer, in Paris.  Poetry.

We’re witnessing legends.

But you know what I like most when I watch Nadal and Federer battle it out?

Knowing that, off the court, these two guys love each other.

Sure, on the court, they want to crush the other guy as viciously as possible.  But off the court, in and around their busy schedules, Rafa and Roger hang out.

They also know — and appreciate — that they each bring value to the other.  Yep, real, live commercial value!

Why should your business be any different?  After all, business and sports are all about performance and winning.

And get this…


Business Is A Deeply Human Endeavor

Spiritual teachings have been saying it for millennia: “Honor Thy Enemy.”

Entrepreneurs should take heed: “Honor Thy Competitor.”

This doesn’t mean that you should tell your competitors your trade secrets any more than you would tell your battlefield enemy your ambush tactics… any more than Nadal would tell Federer that he was going to hang out on the baseline and fire forehand shots right and left.

This is competition, so… compete… and do so viciously!

But hating your competitors is just plain stupid.

  • For one thing, and most tactically, it can cloud your judgment as to their capabilities.  Why have an inaccurate competitive analysis?  You might get beat by a backhand that everyone else admires.
  • For another thing, you can learn from your competition.  (Hello?  You can learn from everybody in your marketplace and industry.)  Observe your competition with an open mind, and you can learn stuff.  You don’t have to tell your clients they’re better just because you know something today that they knew before you.  You’re good!
  • Thirdly, you never know when your competitor will try to hire you over, or when you might want to make an offer to your competitor to work for you.  Why have a crappy relationship?  This is the age of Co-opetition, open source and social networking.  Be professional.  Be competitive.  But be reasonably nice!
  • And finally, your competitors may even be opening up the marketplace for you.   Imagine that!  Maybe they’re too big for some sector of the marketplace.  Maybe they’re too small.  Maybe they’re too expensive, or too cheap.  Maybe, they’re a first-mover and they’re building awareness for stuff that you can provide.  As a second-mover, the road has been plowed for you.  If you’ve got a good relationship with a given competitor, maybe they’ll even refer you if they’re not right for a given client!


It’s Easy To Create Sports Cliches In Business

It’s also easy to dismiss them.

Over the years, I have had many good laughs with my competitors at bars, at events, at conferences, even in reception at prospects’ offices!

And I’ve materially, yes, materially, benefitted from some of these relationships.  I’m not alone.

You’re more likely to get a phone call from a former competitor than you are from some unknown prospect reading a trade journal listing… provided you haven’t been an asshole, of course.


Honor Thy Competitor

They have chosen the same line of work as you.  They can’t be that bad!

They might actually like you, too!