Last week I announced my new podcast – Becoming The InfluentialMe and I also talked about the mental game and what that means for the future of work.

Today I want to start off from where I finished off and that is; How to Remain Competitive even though you can’t compete and next week we’ll discuss Overcoming resistance and staying motivated.

These are not typically topics I can churn through in one post, and please forgive me if in my endeavour for brevity, there is some oversimplification.

How do you remain competitive when you can’t compete?

I got this phrase from my coach, who works with elite athletes and sportspeople. I love the concept because in the corporate world, everybody is on a quest to get ahead. It’s not always a competition, but your brand does  have to compete in the marketplace – whether that’s internally, or externally and to say that COVID has thrown a spanner into the works, is to put it mildly. We have to fight the temptation to hide behind the lack of face to face interactions and to rapidly slump into mediocrity. Instead we have to remain competitive, innovative and empathetic and mentally decluttered. It’s a big ask.

If I was a mathematician I would say, mental/emotional clarity + curiosity x innovation = competitive/ successful career brand 

Without mental and emotional clarity, it is so difficult to cultivate curiosity, the curiosity necessary for you to identify problems which you are uniquely positioned to solve. Every business has LOTS of problems and the key is to not focus on the ones you can’t do anything about. The key is to focus on the ones you can impact and sometime that may only be one small one.  Without problems to solve, there is nothing to innovate and like a machine you simply deliver what is asked of you and then feel resentful when you are not rewarded for it. So once you discover what problems you are uniquely positioned to solve, it’s time to get thinking (and asking). It’s about showing your curiosity to your superiors, so they know you’re thinking about these problems and also brainstorming, questioning stakeholders and developing ad testing potential solutions. And with the momentum and energy that comes with innovation, you stand out.

What about  problem solving fatigue? 

“I’ve done so much and have received zero reward” 

The simple answer to this, is bank your innovations for your next role. Your actions today are padding out your CV for tomorrow. It pays to have experience in seemingly unnecessary things now because it’s experience you can leverage in your next position, even if it is just the experience of innovating itself, which is a muscle we must work. Being able to demonstrate ‘innovative- ness’ is much easier when you consistently work that muscle such that it becomes second nature.

Uber, Expedia, Graze, ClassPass and so many more high growth businesses exist because someone chose to solve a ‘small problem’.

Back to the Questions 

What is your managers most pressing problem?

What is the biggest downside for the team as a result of remote working?

What is one way you have adapted your way of working, that you can share interdepartmentally?

And so it goes…..

In a nutshell, the best way to stay ‘competitive when you can’t compete’ is to identify and solve problems (ideally other people’s) and of those, to focus on the one’s that you are uniquely positioned to fix.

In the next post I’ll talk about the final piece, which we must all get through and that is “Overcoming resistance while staying motivated”