The competitive instinct

The Competitive Instinct

Since starting SotoLabs and making the decision to go entrepreneur, I’ve given a lot of thought on the personality traits of successful entrepreneurs. It’s a combination of intelligence, charisma, but above all else, it’s what I like to call the competitive instinct.

I think all entrepreneurs have the competitive instinct. The most successful entrepreneurs are obsessed with being the best in their industry, the best in their field, the best amongst their peers. That inner desire to be the best means they are always looking forward and never even considering the possibility of failure.

When I think about the competitive instinct, I go back to my days when I played basketball. I would practice for hours and hours, but would still get crushed on the court. I would study game film, workout 6 hours a day in the summer, and shoot until my arms wanted to fall off, but I only saw marginal gains. Finally, I joined an AAU team where everyone was older, bigger, and faster than me. Being an underclassman, there was no way I was going to get any minutes, unless I proved myself. So I become a hard-nosed defender who would dive for loose balls during practice, take charges from 6’8” centers, and crash the paint for any offensive rebound. I didn’t have the talent, but I definitely had the competitive instinct.

In the startup world, people develop their competitive instinct in a variety of ways. Some work for a larger company and learn what it takes to rise to the top. Others work with a talented team at a startup and learn what it takes to become the front-runner in your industry. In fact, some companies even use products like LevelEleven to fuel their employees’ competitive instinct.

So, how does this apply to every day life?

  • Find a workout buddy that is in way better shape than you and will push you to get to their level.
  • Join a Meetup group for Ruby on Rails and work on tough projects with experienced developers.
  • Always do work with other people and check in to see how their progress is going. The more productive they are, the more productive you will want to be
  • Focus on one industry competitor and obsess about them. What is their office like? Who are their customers? What lunch do their cater for their employees?

Jobs vs. Gates, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, Superman vs. Lex Luthor, Mario vs. Luigi –the competitive instinct is for real. Just embrace it.

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