An Alternative Theory on Turning 30

This past weekend, your writer here reached a new milestone, stepping over a new century in his life. That’s right, he turned 30. For those who haven’t reached it yet, it’s the first birthday you will ever experience that people will constantly remind you what age you have just entered. I must have heard “Happy 30th Birthday!” from everyone I saw over the past week, as they drew out the number as if it was a curse.

I'm turning 30, and people won't let me forget it. But, seriously, it's a great thing.

I’m turning 30, and people won’t let me forget it. But, seriously, it’s a great thing.

Maybe they thought I would forget, after all I’m now 30. And I don’t know if that happens at 40 or 50, but my guess is it’s the only other time in your life that it will occur. The other statement, or I should say question, that people asked was “How does it feel to be 30?” And that’s a weird thought, since, really it’s only a minute later from 29, and it’s not like lasers were suddenly going to shoot out of my eyes, while I struggled to remember where I had put the keys. Nothing had changed.

Of course, they were really just kidding and poking fun at my impending middle-agedness. But it does get you thinking about your past and your future. And when I began to think about it, it became clear that people’s fear of 30 was not only unfounded, but misguided. This is because of the belief that at 30 your childhood is officially over, you’re an adult and the best days of your life are behind you. But let’s just evaluate the “best years of your life:”

  • 0-6: You don’t remember a thing. I’m sure they were great, sitting around, playing with friends, pooping your pants and relying on the parents for everything, but you probably remember zero to little of this time. You weren’t old enough to know anything, so you were just soaking it all up. Sounds fantastic, but who knows? All I remember is getting bit by a goose when I was four. I can’t include these among the greatest years of my life because I have no idea if they were.
  • 7-13: Great times. You probably had very few responsibilities, other than like cleaning the cat litter (one of mine) or taking out the trash. But most of your time was spent playing little league, hanging out with friends and learning to dress yourself. You remember these, and they were a blast. These can be included in the greatest years. Continue reading
photo by: akarakoc

Redefining Competition And Value

Conqueror: To overcome or surmount by physical, mental, or moral force

Value: A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable

 One thing the U.S. business world knows is competition.

“I need to outperform so-and-so to get the promotion.”

“If we have more revenues, then we can invest more into XX product, which will blow away the competition.”

“If I just work harder and faster than everyone else, then my business will become a success.”

The me-versus you tactic in business can hurt your company in the long-term. Instead develop a greater good.

Sound familiar? While having competition, goals and a strong to desire to come out on top is great, it’s how we look at competition that might be sending us down the wrong path.

Paul Graham, a creator of the startup incubator YCombinator recently touched on this subject when discussing ways to develop a business idea. He wrote (I’ve bolded for emphasis):

“Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you’re probably not too late. It’s exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility. So unless you discover a competitor with the sort of lock-in that would prevent users from choosing you, don’t discard the idea.”

So why, then, do we focus so much on competition?

It’s interesting because we view competition as this me versus you dynamic. I’m better than that company because of X, Y and Z. And while this competition against another can drive the short-term ambition, motivation or whatever, there’s a serious problem when looking for long-term happiness and growth. First, let’s discuss growth.

When looking for ways to grow, while competing against another, it will narrow your view for potential possibilities. That’s great for launching the business, as your focus becomes a strength while you take on the initial steps to turn a profit. Once you have, though, you will need to grow through different means. But you’re so focused on what your competitor has done, is doing or might do, that you miss out on opportunities that the competitor may never have thought about. Your narrow viewpoint has hurt your ability to see the larger competitive space. That’s a growth hindrance.

Happiness is often cited as the number one goal in life, even for those running a business. But competition has shown to create isolation from the community. Having a strong community bond is one of the most important factors in ensuring a happy lifestyle. That means if you’re competing for a job with a co-worker, then that creates distrust and breaks the community bond long-term, leading to a less happy office. So you may win at the expense of another, but you haven’t accomplished your number one goal in life: happiness.

Instead, what if we took the competition idea, and turned it around. Instead of competing against another, you’re competing against something in your world that needs changed. Continue reading

photo by: The U.S. Army