There have been a lot of articles and books written about applying big business success formulas — like branding for example — to a person’s personal career. Maybe there’s some truth to it. After all, the companies that differentiate themselves, the companies that stand for a clear ideal (want a safe car, buy a Volvo…) tend to survive and flourish.
I have started to think about this idea in a different light: What is an individual person’s lasting, sustainable competitive advantage? Companies, after all, try hard to find an edge that would help them take marketshare from their closest competitors.
I think I know the answer.
First, consider this quote from management hall of famer, Jack Welch:
An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
I would like to transform this statement into my own:
An individual’s willingness and desire to question everything, to seek knowledge, to synergize it with current challenges, to gain insights, to learn lessons without always enduring the scars of experience — and then — to proactively change his or her approach, to experiment with optimism, to dare to fail, to strive for the new and the great, is the only possible competitive advantage a person has.
Fortune is on the side of the optimist: 98% of people do not like to change, fear change, or at a minimum, avoid change.
Therein is the gold plated opportunity, available to the optimistic few.
I.M. Optimism Man
PS. I was thinking about personal differentiation a few years ago — this article is well worth reading. Combine these thoughts of proactive learning, embracing change, and living with integrity, and you are sure to go places.