“And the award for the safest runner goes to… Tim Harsch!” The announcer exclaimed over the loudspeaker as Owler’s Co-Founder and Director of Product crossed the triathlon finish line, his helmet still secured to his head.
In the midst of the adrenaline-fueled rush, excitement and exhaustion of completing the bike and starting the run of the triathlon, Tim forgot to take his helmet off. He did realize it shortly after he started running, but a few meters is a few meters and turning back was not an option. Seconds matter. Tim is competitive.
Today marks the opening ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and so commences 19 days of relentless competition in 306 events. Each nation pursuing gold.
The history of the games dates back to Olympia, Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Although, the International Olympic Committee wasn’t established until 1894, and the first Olympic games under the IOC took place in Athens, Greece, in 1896. From 241 competitors in Athens, to now over 10,000 athletes at Rio 2016, you can say the spirit of competition prevails.
WHAT IS COMPETITION
By one definition, competition is the ‘rivalry for supremacy.’ We’re a divided front on whether competition plays a role in poor self-esteem in children. Yet, regardless of opinions on how to teach children to compete- we cannot simply ignore it. Competition is what drives the free-market economy, and what encourages personal growth- in sports and in life. So maybe we can pivot the idea of what construes competition. Perhaps it’s the definition that is creating issues.
Thomas Beck, President of the IOC said at the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony earlier this year,
Like no other human activity, sport is about bringing people together in the spirit of friendship and respect. Sport always builds bridges, it never erects walls. In a world shaken by crises, the message that our shared humanity is greater than the forces that divide us is more relevant than ever before. By coming together in unity to celebrate the rich diversity of our shared humanity, the Olympic Games give us all hope that a better world is possible. Together, we can change the world.”
Nelson Mandela said, “Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” He proved it at the 1995 Rugby World Cup, South Africa won that year, and it was a sporting moment that helped begin to build bridges between communities that had long been divided by racism.
Erik Van Dillen, professional tennis player from the 1970’s who now operates a successful sports marketing company, believes that even at the professional level the emphasis on competition misses the point. From his experience, the greats of tennis are genius problem solvers. They love not explicitly the ‘rivalry for supremacy’, but the challenge of solving a difficult problem. Winning or losing the match is simply a measure of whether or not they have solved that problem.
Looking at competition from this point of view -albeit unique- is both powerful and relatable. Instead of trying to define competition by rivalry, it can be classified by ‘a smart analysis of a problem to be solved.’ Regardless of specific definitions, competition involves gathering and analyzing insights about your component, hypothesizing their next move, and making a strategic decision. This is competitive intelligence. In sports, in life, and in business.
At Owler, there is a strong belief in this healthy competition. The team is made up of competitive genes, like Tim, who enjoy pushing the boundaries, both physically and mentally. In fact, the fundamentals of the company lay in the understanding that in order to be successful, every business must understand their competition. The most unique and useful part of Owler’s platform is its Competitive Graph.
The Olympic games, the marathon, the triathlon- they are a celebration and empower a unity between all those involved. In order to compete in any of these events, hard work must be done. Hours of individual training every single day for months, years even. Keeping up with others in the race is also essential; understanding where your competitors sit, and what needs to be done to out-think them, and out-skill them. Yet, when the day comes to compete, both body and mind are practiced and ready. Winning the race- or even just competing in the race- is a celebration of all that hard work. The triumph is not an act of arrogance. As in all sports, there is a solid handshake at the end and a respect for fellow competitors. In sports, you need to compete intelligently.
In comparison, by signing up for Owler and tracking your competition, you are also competing intelligently. Every single day- email alerts on your competition are delivered to your inbox- it’s like waking up for your morning run. Months down the road you’ll have a better-ingrained knowledge of your competitors, not because you’ve spent hours researching them, but because their news and insights will be a part of your everyday morning routine.
In life and in sports, it’s important to compete intelligently. In business, Owler is all you need for competitive intelligence.