I have never liked competition because I have never won any.
This was a huge problem.
I hated losing on one hand, and I couldn’t win on the other. This disgust for competition got me on a road to getting what I want without competing with others.
Even if beating my own path would end up being harder than competing – that’s the path I have always taken.
Find below 5 ways to escape competition forever.
1. Think for Yourself and Be a Contrarian if You Have to
A contrarian is a person who takes actions that do not align with the popular consensus.
In finance, a contrarian will short stocks that rise in value and buy stocks that decrease in value. Since the stock market represents the estimated future value of the market at instant t, the contrarian will buy what everyone sells and sells what everyone buys.
Statistically speaking, it’s a great strategy because society’s performances can be plotted on a normal distribution.
The majority has average success, while the minority is really successful.
By not doing what everybody does, you avoid standing in “a”. However, you may also end up on “c.”
Merely being a contrarian is therefore not enough.
You need to know when it’s best to follow the crowd, and when it’s best to follow your instinct. This is why you should always think for yourself.
One of the most famous contrarians is Peter Thiel. He bet on Trump winning and was right. He bet on Facebook, Tesla, SpaceX, and a myriad of other startups that had little chances for success and made billions of dollars as a result.
And yet, not many people think like Peter Thiel. That may be why he is one of the 2 825 billionaires that exist in the world.
Statistically speaking, he’s part of a group whose only 0,00003766% of the worldwide population are part of.
What we can learn from Thiel is that the first thing you need to do to escape competition is to think for yourself. It is to escape the crowd, and that includes escaping the model everybody uses to think.
It is to think about what nobody else is thinking about in a manner no one is employing.
And that includes thinking why.
2. Ask Yourself Why
People are social creatures. We tend to desire what everyone desires and to say what everyone says. Imitation and resemblance enable us to bond with others.
However, imitated action (also called mimicry) leads to doing what everyone else is doing, which itself leads to competition since by doing like everyone else, you compete with everyone else.
If you want to escape competition, you have to start to think like yourself, not like everyone else.
A good starting point is to ask yourself why.
If you look around, nobody is asking why.
Students go to university without knowing why.
Parents have kids without knowing why.
Borrowers get mortgages without knowing why.
Fiances marry without knowing why. And most people wake up without truly knowing why either.
The absence of purpose makes them miserable. As a result, drugs, anti-depressants, alcohol, sugar, constant scrolling, and porn consumption are at all-time high.
Why motivates your action and helps you figure out your own path, which takes you out of the competition.
You become more of yourself, hence less of others.
3. Strive for the Top
Some years ago, Australia organized a competition for “the best job in the world”, which entailed watching over and taking care of a paradise island. How many people do you think applied to the job?
Why? Because the job promised to be easy and nice.
Now, how many people do you think look for a way to earn enough money and buy their own private island?
Not nearly as much. It’s one thing to apply for a job. It’s another to start a company, become a multi-millionaire, and buy an island.
The human race is inherently lazy. Most people don’t like to make efforts and would rather chill and do nothing than create value.
This is why entry-level jobs have more applicants than say, software engineering jobs. Becoming a software engineer is hard because it’s a process. Being a waiter isn’t because it’s an event.
As you strive for more challenging goals, you simultaneously decrease the competition for that goal.
Start a supermarket and you’ll experience a rather high level of competition. Start a hospital and you won’t have as many.
4. Go Where Nobody Goes
When I graduated in June 2020, I ended up looking for a job amid the worst economic slump since the Second World War.
And yet, I found one in less than 10 days.
How did I do it?
I went where nobody goes.
I’m from Brussels, Belgium and it is safe to say that everyone is looking for a job in Brussels because salaries are high.
So I not only competed against Belgians, but also against the French, Germans, Dutch, Indians, Ukrainians, Spanish, Morrocans, Polish, Italians (half of the city is Italian), Turkish, and the rest of the entire f**** world.
An offer for an unpaid internship on Linkedin would, within 24 hours, receive more than 200 applications.
When I applied for another unpaid internship in marketing, they sent me one of these cognitive tests. I failed, so they told me to go f*** myself.
That made me insanely angry.
I decided I would not work for a system that rejected me like a vulgar transplant.
Faced with reality, I changed my strategy and stopped competing.
Instead of uselessly fight for unpaid positions, I took myself out of the race and moved to…Poland.
While many Polish people have moved abroad to find better living conditions, I moved to Poland to find a job and effectively found one after looking (not very hard) for 10 days. And you know why is that?
Because no Belgians are moving to Poland to work.
In fact, there aren’t many people moving to Poland to work at all (besides Ukrainians) because the salary is not as attractive as in France or Belgium, for example.
And while there aren’t that many positions suited for me because I don’t speak Polish, the few positions that there were were more than enough.
I am not competing against anyone in Poland.
Life was quite good.
If you want to escape competition, go where nobody goes.
5. Do What Nobody Does
A part of entrepreneurs’ success is that they do stuff no one did before them. Let’s take Musk as an example.
After he sold PayPal, he thought we’d need to leave Earth at some point. When he looked, he saw no one was building spaceships, so he decided to do it himself.
When you do what nobody does, you build a monopoly and instantly eliminate competition.
Whether we speak of art (Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp), fashion (Chanel), tech (Apple), furniture (Ikea), supermarkets (Walmart), coffee (Starbucks), or cars (Telsa), innovators create new markets that competitors take time to enter.
Tesla has no competition, Apple neither.
Hell, everyone thought both companies would fail.
But they didn’t.
They succeeded when they did what nobody else was doing.
This lesson also applies to jobs and services nobody wants to do, such as cleaning crime scenes, funeral services, wastewater treatment management, or oil-rig work.
When you do what nobody else does, you remove yourself from the competition.
The Bottom Line
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.Mark Twain
Ever since I was a kid, I have hated being part of the majority. When I was at the cinema, I didn’t want to be in the audience as I felt like an idiot – I wanted to be on the screen.
This has led me to pursue a 12-year career as a comedian, which taught me how to escape competition as much as possible.
I have subsequently kept this rule of avoiding to do like everyone else if there was a better alternative (and most of the time, there is, because majorities seldom make good choices).
This has led me on extraordinary adventures. Everyone is specializing? All of my degrees are in different fields.
Everyone is becoming vegan? I went carnivore diet after I looked at objective evidence, results, and hard data.
Everyone loved New Zealand? I hated it.
Everyone hates Eastern Europe? I love it.
The most difficult habit to develop if you want to escape competition is to think for yourself. Merely being a contrarian won’t get you far, as you’ll be the mere reflection of the crowd’s idiocy.
And the reflection of an idiot is not a smart person. It’s still an idiot.
The key to escape competition is to seek objective truth, and not succumb to mainstream models and propaganda.
It is, as Peter Thiel would say, “not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.“
Then you will likely enjoy all the others. When you subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, you'll receive a list of the articles I wrote during the two previous weeks + insights from the books I am reading + a short bullet list of savvy facts that will expand your mind. I keep the whole thing under three minutes.
Oh, and you'll also receive a hidden article for new subscribers only!
How does that sound?