Learning from champions: Focus on yourself - not the competition

A recent article by Bill Murphy, Jr. for Inc. Magazine referenced a quote from 2000 by Jeff Bezos of Amazon. “The truth is: We are, and aspire to be, the Amazon.com of the Internet…” Bezos was responding to the writer David Sheff’s (Playboy Magazine) question asking whether or not Amazon hoped to become the “Wall-Mart of the internet”.

Every great champion, male or female that I interviewed in the sport of World Cup Ski Racing told me in 1996, I will paraphrase: “I do not compete to be like anyone else. If I want to win and to become the best in the world, I cannot copy anyone. To copy someone means that I can only ever be second best. I must be myself and I must be better than everyone else”.

In essence, the champion athletes in the world of sport, like the top business people in the world have a very similar mindset and approach with an ultimate goal of being “the” person or entity that sits on the very top. It is not about the other competitors (athletes or corporations) it is about becoming the athlete who wins or the top company in the world. This intensive inward focus on being the best has both the greatest risk (very few ever make it to the very top) and the greatest potential to be number one on the slopes or number one in business.

When talking about the current success of Amazon it is easy to forget that for years, they were not profitable, yet Jeff Bezos kept going and kept his company alive. Champion athletes and top corporate leaders do not have time or energy to worry about the competition. The amount of effort behind the scenes to overcome doubters and to just keep pushing themselves forward is monumental and it takes an internal focus and approach that few understand and even fewer can handle.

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