“This is what I do best!”

Some of my teammates at Boston Brazilian Jiu Jitsu compete regularly. This past Saturday, I ventured to Plymouth Memorial Hall to watch amateur and professional MMA fights. One such fighter, the #1 ranked amateur in New England, had just won by TKO. He was fired up, and his post-fight interview shed light into what it takes not only to get inside the cage, but to be exceptionally good at it.

“I love this shit! This is what I do best!”

As someone who has gone back and forth on whether or not I’d ever want to test myself in the cage, I found this extremely interesting.

My answer has mostly been no, and this fighter’s statement sheds some light into why:

Martial arts, while something I certainly enjoy, is simply not what I do best. I am not, nor do I desire to be, a world champion jiu jitsu fighter or MMA athlete. And the amount of time I’d have to dedicate to the task of becoming that person would severely interfere with the plans and ambitions I have for my life. 

Quite plainly, martial arts is not my competitive advantage.

What Do We Do Best?

Much career advice centers on answering the question of, “What do you want to do?”

But I think this is the wrong question, precisely because it is not comprehensive.

The right question, rather, is something like the following:

  • What are you really good at?

  • What skillsets and attributes do you possess that would be hardest to replicate in any of the other billions of people living today?

  • What makes you unlike everyone else?

  • Where do you consistently outperform others? And where do they outperform you?

  • What do you refuse to delegate and what does that say about your skillset and attributes?

There are multiple variants of this question, but fundamentally, the question is this: What is your competitive advantage?

What Do We Enjoy Doing?

This question is easier to answer than any of those above. We tend to have more self-awareness of which activities bring us joy than understanding clearly where our greatness is.

Yes, this is not the right question to ask in the context of what to do with your life, but the answer may shed light on what your competitive advantage is. This is because we tend to be good at that which we enjoy.

Finding your competitive advantage starts with knowing yourself well. It’s having a deep understanding of what makes you uniquely you.

The Cost of Not Playing to Your Competitive Advantage

So say I follow my heart and dreams and do what I want to do.

Let’s look at what most people want to do. Most people want to minimize the amount of work they want to do while maximizing the amount they get paid to do it. Work less, get paid more. To then do what with one’s time? ‘I want to be my own boss’ is the usual tagline behind which the desire to abdicate all responsibility hides.

This is common in real estate investing. The goal of most real estate investors is to “quit their job”, be “financially free”, and have total freedom with their time. To do what? This is an outstanding goal if your ambition is to build a world-changing business.

On a long-term existential level, this is a disservice to you. I’d argue it’s also a disservice to the world. The final question is thus:

What impact could you have if you consistently played to your competitive advantage? 

This ties in with our previous question of what skillset/attribute do you possess that is hardest to replicate in anyone else?

There is an opportunity cost associated with not utilizing your competitive advantage. If you’re not playing to your strengths, you’re likely not doing something you enjoy. If you’re entrenched in a career that you aren’t happy with, how much potential fulfilment are you missing out on by not pursuing meaningful work?

This opportunity cost also extends beyond yourself and is felt by the rest of the world.

What are you depriving the world of by not doing that which you are best at? That which makes you uniquely you?