Updated: Dec 3, 2020

It may sound crazy, but often we catch ourselves doing something with a vague hope of success. I'll go to that sales job and outsell all the other guys. I'll start a new company that offers landscaping services. I'll write a blog.

The basic principle in people's mind is "if I do something well then I will differentiate myself and succeed versus the competition". There is a name for this in psychology, if we're honest - The Lake Wobegon Effect. We think that trying hard in and of itself will yield results, because we're generally so talented. We implicitly think that somehow our A-game is better than everyone else's A-game. THIS IS COMPLETELY WRONG.

What we should be doing is asking ourselves why we think we're better than the average. This can be quite sobering. Those existing sales guys have survived being culled for inadequacy. They passed rigorous hiring processes. They have proven track records and experience advantage. How exactly do I think I am better than them? Am I smarter? harder working? really? I'm sure they're no dunces. What edge do I actually have?

Starting a landscaping business? what's your edge? Are you a better landscaper? Do you have better ideas? Is your labour somehow cheaper, offering a competitive advantage? Do you have some type of design technology nobody else has? If the answer to one of those questions is yes, then you have an edge. Now you know how you'll compete successfully. Now you go with confidence.

BUT - if you're unable to articulate your edge; and here we mean very clearly, in something that leaves clear daylight between you and everyone else - well then be careful. You may not end up as successful as your natural optimism is making you think.

An edge can be many things. It may be a unique vision. It may be a technology, a business model, a cost base, a funding advantage. It may be a physical attribute, a superior mental framework. Ultimately, anything that will impact the goal - whatever it is - in a positive way, unique to you.

Asking yourself this question; and getting in the habit of thinking always in terms of "what's my edge"; will shortcut you many blind alleys and lessons learned. Internalise that concept.

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