Have you ever heard this argument? If you don’t do X, then you will be left behind. You will miss out. Your competition will get there first.
You have heard it a million times, because people are so easily fooled by it. “If we don’t invest X in education, we won’t be able to compete in the global economy.” We’ll all be working for the Chinese.
When you hear this argument, be very suspicious. Someone is trying to convert you to their cause.
A day at the races
Greyhounds have been known to run themselves to death. If we didn’t limit the length of the greyhound race, some of them would drop dead. Weird, huh?
Why do greyhounds exhaust themselves running around in circles? How many times do they have to run the race before they figure out the rabbit is fake, they probably can’t catch it anyway, and the people in the stands are abusing them for their amusement?
Dogs are not that stupid. My puppy learned to switch directions in about 30 seconds of chasing me around the couch. Something else is going on with the greyhounds.
The greyhound in 2nd place tastes the drool of the competitor out front, feels the hot breath of the others on its haunches. Second place may be no better than last. Winner takes all.
The greyhound in second place doesn’t notice the people in the stand who are mocking him. Why doesn’t that silly beast just stop and wait for the rabbit to come back around, like my puppy did? Or better still, why not stop chasing the fake rabbit and chase the hot dog vendor instead?
But the second-place greyhound would rather die than give up, fall behind, become the mockery of the pack, or appear too weak to the others. In the wild, that display of weakness got you killed and eaten.
Even if it came into his mind to stop and turn around, it would be impossible for the dog not to feel crazy for being the only one to stop, sheepishly sitting there, ashamed of breaking the rules, even if it is the smartest possible move he could make, even if no rule prohibits it.
You and I are much smarter than dogs, of course. But often it doesn’t show.
Like dogs, we are prone to lose our minds to the pack mentality. We will run ourselves ragged for whatever nonsensical purpose, just so long as the other guy doesn’t beat us to it.
When our nose is to the ground, when we are in the midst of the chase, when we feel the hot breath of our competitors on our asses, we will keep running to get ahead. Anything not to fall behind. No matter how silly it looks to others.
And if you break from the pack to try something clever, some people will call you a cheater. They will say you aren’t a “real” competitor. Others will celebrate your cleverness when you succeed and laugh at your stupidity when you fail.
Ignore all of them. Let them run themselves ragged and go hungry, if they insist upon it.
Do something different because it is right and because it is smart.
Even if it is smart and right, it will probably feel horribly wrong. Your herd instinct is fighting you.
Instinct is powerful.
Are you a slave to instinct? No, you are a human being. You have a manual override switch in your prefrontal cortex. Use it.
You have the capacity for total courage or total cowardice in each moment. Not sure which is which? The courageous choice is the one that feels like jumping off a 20-foot bridge. Your best bet is courage, every time.
I promise you that the rancher with the courage to raise insects instead of cattle, and to find a way to make them palatable to consumers, will be times over richer than your average cattle rancher.
Sooner or later, someone will be smart and courageous enough to do what needs done.
The economics are simple. Insects provide more value per pound at lower cost, and few people have the guts to compete.
In blogging and internet marketing, you are told over and over to work harder and faster than the next guy at current internet marketing best practices.
Should you? No. This is the one strategy to rule out right away.
Stop the race for a second, get off the beaten path, step out into the stands and observe.
If it is a hurry-up kind of question, the answer is no.” – someone’s dad.
The rules keep changing
The opportunities are more diverse, dynamic, smaller on average and more numerous than ever before.
The rules of the game used to be understood, but now they change all the time.
We used to eat mammoths, and now we must learn to eat insects.
Which means you can feel free to put away your spear and devise a new approach, even as you “fall behind” competitors who are chasing down locusts with stone axes.
Now agility trumps speed. Responsiveness trumps strength. Small trumps big. Connection trumps knowledge. We know this. We can see it happening all around us. But are we doing anything differently as a result?
No, because it feels weird.
Are you still trying to be faster, bigger, stronger and more expert than the next guy? Sure, everyone is. And you are about as likely to succeed that way as the greyhound is to catch the artificial rabbit.
Stop and play a new game that you stand a good chance of winning. (You are smart enough to figure it out for yourself).
Go ahead and miss out on mediocrity. Let your competitors get ahead while you change direction.
Yes, the marketplace is noisy, crowded and competitive. What is the common response to this? Fight fire with fire, make yourself heard, stand out in the crowd, fight for mindshare…
Now what will you do instead of the common response?