Authenticity is crucial for winning against the competition
The formula for success in any situation has always been very straight forward. You have to be better than your competition. That’s really it. And this goes for everything. Whether its business, sports, relationships, a game of tag or a hot dog eating competition. You don’t have to be great; you just have to be better that whoever you’re competing with.
The world economy is based on growth in the same way life itself is. A big part of this growth is population. Any successful species will grow in numbers and populate until it runs into some level of competition to slow that growth. Humans have no competition at the moment. Thus, our numbers continue to increase.
So, what does this mean for the individual person? It means more competition from other humans.
There has mean a lot of buzz in recent years over the “shrinking middle class” along with the decreased value of a college degree. This is all due to competition. Scarcity creates value and abundance lowers value. A college degree is powerful when it is rare. When everyone has a college degree, the value of it drops.
The shrinking middle class is also partially due to the laws of scarcity and abundance. However, the problem is more complex. As technology improves and progresses, certain jobs and industries become obsolete. Even jobs like cashier and bartender are slowly being replaced by computers and robots.
One driving force behind this situation is the increased need for profit and efficiency. Machines are more efficient than people and can work longer hours. They also don’t take sick days, require health insurance, quit to work somewhere else or require a paycheck. Machines are simply lower maintenance and more reliable than people.
Any business looking to maximize profits will favor the machine over the person. And anyone who can build a machine to solve a problem will gain a large financial reward. Thus, the number of low skilled jobs continue to decline as the number of available people continues to increase. This creates more competition among people. The result is in a shrinking middle class.
Given this situation, the need for the individual person to be as authentic as possible is more important than ever. Back when blue collar jobs were more lucrative and plentiful, it made more sense to follow a cookie cutter lifestyle and have an “worker bee” mindset. And this is largely still the mindset schools and universities teach. How to be a good “worker bee” and conform to the work culture of the day.
The challenge is the increased competition. College graduates today face far more competition than college graduates ten or twenty years ago. With more competition comes a decreased probability of success. The likelihood that someone is smarter than you, more talented than you, or better connected than you goes up with every new person in the market.
With more people in the market, differentiation becomes more challenging. What makes you better than the last candidate applying for the job?
High degrees of market saturation cause a decrease in available market share. If you are the only coffee shop in town, you enjoy all the market share for anyone who wants coffee. This leads to higher profits. But what happens when there are ten, twenty or even fifty other coffee shops in town? Now, you have to be better, or you risk losing all the market share.
Competition forces everyone to step up their game in a big way. And only the most authentic individuals win. This is because authenticity creates scarcity. Creating scarcity is the key to high market share. When you are rare, scarce and hard to replace, you enjoy more abundance of resources, opportunities, and choices. When you are common and easy to replace, your value drops.
Unfortunately, society largely teaches people to be “common” and to suppress most or all of what makes them different from others. This leads many people to doubt or second guess their dreams and brilliant plans. Often at their own peril in the long run. While peer pressure is great for the good of the group, it can often lead to disaster for the individual.
Furthermore, too much deviation from the norm is not good either. It can lead to self-destructive behavior and damaging levels of backlash from society. This is the competition dilemma of life. How to be different enough to thrive, but not so different that you lose your fighting chance all together.