Life is a lot like a war. But instead of fighting each other with guns and other forms of ammunition, we’re all in our own unique self-directed battlefields. To win, we have to use unique strategies to outsmart other people, get ahead and win. In the case of your life, your key strategy should be to work on discovering your unique traits, qualities, experiences, and skills (your source of personal competitive advantage) and use these to get ahead of your peers or competitors.
Remind yourself. Nobody built like you, you design yourself. – Jay Z
I’ll dive right in and give you a list of 7 sources of personal advantage that you can use from today to keep you ahead of the game.
1. Delayed gratification
Millennials are often referred to as the ‘microwave generation’ due to their lack of patience when it comes to achieving their goals. Successful people know that it takes time, dedication and sometimes a little pain to achieve greatness. As it’s often said, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ so don’t expect to get rich, get fit, get to the CEO level in a flash. That’s not how life works. In any case, the easier it is to get anything, the easier it is to lose or forget since you won’t attach value to it.
I started this blog in November 2016. 2 years later, I still haven’t achieved the number of articles and the number of readers I thought I would have by now. Most people would have given up by now and taken up a new project. But, I’m still here. Learning, relearning, unlearning and most important, starting over when I fail. At some point in the near future, I will achieve my dream. You should adopt the same attitude by putting in the work consistently and waiting for your efforts to bear fruits. An apple tree takes between 6 to 10 years to bear the succulent and healthy apples that you enjoy. Give yourself time! 😉
The harder it was to get, the more you want to keep it. – Jay Mark Mateo Balms
2. Ability to suffer
Life often feels like an uphill task without a chance of ever getting to the peak. Well, if you want to make it to the top, you have to learn and master the art of suffering. Suffering, in this case, means being able to live through difficult times. Do you have a test coming up and you feel like you won’t make the cut? Are working on an important project that has so many activities going on that you feel overwhelmed? Do you want to start a blog or business? Been looking for a job for the longest time? Challenge yourself to put in the work to succeed in the task that you’re faced with. Learn to suffer through putting in long hours, writing more than one draft, trying multiple times, testing different ideas.
I wrote a great article on how you can get started on building your resilience as it’s the most important trait you will ever need to have a competitive advantage over everyone else.
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” Margaret Thatcher
3. Ability to change your mind
Your mind is not a mountain that it cannot be moved or that it should take time to change just like it takes years for volcanic eruptions to happen. You need to change your mind OFTEN about a lot of things as you grow up. Have you changed your mind about something of late? Is there a belief in your childhood that you changed your mind about so far? Is there a stereotype about people that you’ve changed your mind about? I honestly hope you said yes to the three questions. To get ahead, you need to change your mind. We live in a dynamic world and if you don’t change your mind fast enough especially about ideas, you’ll be left behind.
I recently attended a self-development training program and the trainer asked us to write down what we were taught about each about money as kids. Surprisingly, a lot of people had very limiting beliefs about their ability to earn, manage and even give money. At the end of the training, I left with the belief that I have the ability to earn more and most importantly, that I can control my money. Have you had such a life-changing experience that led to a change in a core belief? Tell us in the comment section.
If you can change your mind, you can change your life. – William James
4. Ability to learn, relearn, and unlearn
The same way you’d hit the gym to train your body in order to gain some muscle or lose weight is the same approach you should take when it comes to teaching your brain new things. Your brain can be changed by cultivating a habit of learning every day. There are various ways you can achieve this such as through reading, listening to podcasts, or talking to wise people.
The world is changing fast and only those people who are willing to learn and adapt to these changes will succeed. For example, as soon as I got my first job, I realize that most (if not all 🙁 ) of what I learned in uni was useless. I had to adapt to this rude shock and new environment and started learning new skills fast. Not that having a college degree is useless, but you’ll soon realize that it’s far from enough. You have to keep evolving in order to win at life.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. – Henry Ford
Do you have some quotes that have completely refused to live your mind? I recently came across this quote by Carl Newport ‘the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it’s becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their work life, will thrive.’
Wow! With all the big and crazy problems we have in the world today that need solutions, it’s crazy to think that more and more people are unable to perform excellent work. Your inability to focus is stealing your dreams and life goals. Are you unable to sit still and work for an hour or more without getting distracted by your phone? If no, just like most people, you might be addicted to social media. Social media addiction is the number one thief of your focus. The time you spend on your phone daily is costing you your chance to win at life. Work on how to break free out of this habit and set yourself up on a path to thrive.
Stay focused, ignore distractions, and you will accomplish your goals much faster. – Joel Osteen
6. Ability to look stupid
The best advice I received last year was ‘enjoy making a fool of yourself.’ Nobody knows everything. The most successful people in the world take risks and read every day because they know there’s a lot they don’t know. Well, if you want to win at life, you need to adopt the same habits. You need to be okay with making a fool of yourself through starting that business, blog, enrolling in that course, applying for that new job and allowing yourself to fail and make a fool of yourself while at it. That’s how the greatest life learnings are acquired. Sometimes, people are going to laugh and ridicule you, but how else will you know that they’re listening and that you’re a threat?
Before starting this blog, I procrastinated on my writing for years. I was scared that people wouldn’t think my writing is not good enough. I thought they’d think I’m stupid. When I finally decided to start, I was scared as hell but still, I did it. As much as I still haven’t achieved my goal of having thousands of readers and earning from it, I’m still here, making a fool of myself by publishing regularly. I can’t even begin to explain all the cool stuff I have learned and all the skills I have acquired.
Go ahead and start that project. Make a fool of yourself. Laugh at yourself out loud when you make a mistake. Trust me, you’ll end up learning more than you ever did/do in school.
7. Ability to say NO
Being young means you have the most important competitive advantage-TIME! That being said, it’s not guaranteed that you will be successful just because you have all the time in the world especially if you keep saying yes to the wrong things. To win at life, you have to master the art of saying no to things that are not a priority. You also have to say no to people who don’t add value to your life. People who waste your precious gift of time. My favourite quote by Waren Buffet is ‘the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.’ Seriously! Learn to value your time by eliminating all activities and people who rob you of your time.
These tips will not only put you ahead by helping you to stay focused on your goals and habits but they also help you discover the powerful potential in you that you never even imagined existed. What other tips do you use to stay ahead of the game? We’ll be happy to read them in the comment section 🙂