The Art of Kicking Ass

by Mark on January 27, 2010 · 3 comments

Are you ready to kick some ass? No, I’m not talking about getting in a street fight. I’m talking about taking your competitiveness to a higher level. Whether we are talking about sports, business, games, warfare, or yes, even street fights, there is one important concept you need to remember to increase your winning percentage:

Competitive advantage is the key to competitive greatness.

What is a competitive advantage? In simple terms, it is anything that gives you an advantage over a competitor. There can be numerous competitive advantages in any given competition. You can have a competitive advantage in one area and still be at a disadvantage from a competitive standpoint. The competitor with the overall competitive advantage has the greatest chance of winning. This might sound obvious, but it is amazing how often that it is overlooked or taken for granted.

Competitive advantages fall into two categories:

  1. Strategy — your plan of attack. This is how you intend to gain an advantage over your opponent.
  2. Execution — the process of carrying out your strategy. This is your attempt at putting your plan into action.

I think of competitiveness in terms of a simple formula:

Competitiveness = Strategy X Execution

If the variables of Strategy and Execution are each measured on a scale of 1 to 10, then a score of 100 — representing competitive perfection — would be achieved when Strategy and Execution are both rated perfect 10s. At this level, there would be some serious ass-kicking going on. This formula also shows the impact that falling short on either one of the variables can have on your competitiveness. Your strategy could be a perfect 10, but if your execution is only a 5, your overall competitiveness will only be 50 out of 100.

Deliberately Build Competitive Advantages

To compete at the highest level, you have to deliberately build competitive advantages, and they have to be crafted specifically for the type of competition you are engaged in. Lance Armstrong won 7 consecutive Tours de France. He had one very formidable competitive advantage. He had what he called the “will to suffer.” His strategy was to train himself to endure more pain than anyone else would be willing to endure. He would train in bitter cold icy mountain conditions, purposely doing what no one else was willing to do. This was a major source of competitive advantage, but it was only one of many competitive advantages that Armstrong built for himself. He relentlessly focused on minor details, stacking a whole bunch of small advantages that separated him from the pack. The result? Armstrong kicked ass.

The ability to endure pain might be an effective competitive advantage for cycling, which is an incredibly physically demanding sport, but it obviously is not nearly as important in the game of golf. Tiger Woods is another great practitioner of the art of kicking ass. One strategy he uses to build competitive advantage is to practice impossible shots over and over. As an example, he will drop balls in a sand trap and step on them, and then practice hitting balls that are completely buried in the sand. By going beyond what other golfers are willing to practice by practicing impossible golf shots that are only rarely encountered, Woods creates a competitive advantage that separates him from the pack. Like Armstrong, Woods stacks competitive advantages. He keeps himself in peak physical condition. Few golfers are as strong or have as much endurance as Woods. This allows Woods to hit the ball farther than most golfers, hit out of deeper roughs, and execute better shots at the end of long matches. This is one of many competitive advantages that allows Woods to kick ass.

The common thread between Armstrong and Woods is that the process of building competitive advantages is a careful and very deliberate process. They decide on strategies that they think will be effective in helping them kick ass, and then they practice executing the strategies until the execution is nearly flawless. The result is that they are extraordinarily difficult to beat.

Decide on something that you are going to do better than anyone else, and begin working on the capability to execute it. Stack competitive advantages, and you too will begin to kick some ass.

What is one thing that you can begin doing to help you kick some ass?


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: