I have never liked competition because I have never won any.
This was a huge problem when I was a kid, then a teenager.
I hated losing on one hand, and I couldn’t win on the other. This disgust for competition got me on a path to seek a way to live and get what I wanted without having to compete with others.
Even if drawing 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 in your life forever.
1. Think for Yourself and Be a Contrarian if You Have to
A contrarian is a person who takes actions that most of the time 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 are organized along a normal distribution.
This graph outlines how by simply doing the opposite of everyone else, you avoid standing in “a”. However, while you may get to b, you may as well fail and end up at 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 may be 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 to succeed and made billion 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 Peter Thiel is that the first thing you need to do to escape competition is to escape the crowd, and that includes escaping the model everybody uses to think.
The first step to escape competition is to think for yourself. 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 has and to say what everyone says. Imitation and resemblance enable us to bond and establish relationships.
However, imitation-caused action only 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 themselves 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, we live in a society hooked on drugs, anti-depressants, alcohol, sugar, constant scrolling, and porn.
Why matters. Why motivates your action and helps you figure out your own path. Doing so, you avoid thinking like everyone else and focus on your own purposes. This enables you to further escape competition by fulfilling your own goals, which differ from the rest of the people. You become more of yourself, hence less of others. This helps you split from the crowd and offer true original value: your value.
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 try to find a way to acquire enough money to have their own private island and live on it?
Not nearly as much. It’s one thing to apply to a job. It’s another to start a company, become a multi-millionaire, and buy an island.
Let’s face it, the human race is inherently lazy. Most people don’t like to make efforts and would rather chill and do nothing than creating something of value.
This is why entry-level jobs have much more applicants than say, software engineering jobs. Becoming a software engineer is hard. Being a waiter isn’t.
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 hostpital and you nearly won’t have any competitors.
Furthermore, doing extraordinary challenges is a good way to promote your brand. This strategy was used by Richard Branson to promote Virgin. He took a boat trip across the Atlantic Ocean, flew a balloon around the world (several times), and sent a Virgin plane to help European hostages in the Middle East.
It worked. He became a billionaire.
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 jobs in Brussels because Belgium is one of the best countries in the world. The healthcare system works, salaries are high, the country is safe (more or less), the food is good, the weather is not so bad, and the people are smart and nice.
As such, looking for a job in Brussels made me realize I was not only competing against Belgians. I was also competing against French, Germans, Dutch, Indians, Ukrainians, Spanish, Morrocans, Polish, Italians, Turkish, and the rest of the entire f**** world.
An unpaid internship offer on Linkedin would, within 24 hours, receive more than 200 applications.
Faced with reality, I decided to change my strategy.
I don’t want to compete, so I don’t.
Instead of uselessly fighting for unpaid positions, I took myself out of the rat 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 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 are are more than enough because I am not competing against anyone in Poland: no Belgians are looking for jobs in Poland!
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 about the fact 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.
The idea behind doing what nobody does is to effectively build a monopoly.
When you do what nobody else does, you naturally eliminate all 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 subsequently 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 have adopted a carnivore diet after I looked at objective evidence, results, and hard data.
Everyone loved New Zealand? Cool, I hated it.
Everyone hates Eastern Europe? I love it.
The most difficult habit to develop if you want to escape competition is thinking for yourself. Merely being a contrarian won’t get you far, as you’ll be the 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.“