Competitors vs. Enemies

What’s the difference? Simple. Competitors make you better. Enemies sour your work, your company, and your reputation. You need competitors. You don’t need enemies.

When companies like Samsung and Apple are competitors, the customer benefits by getting the latest and greatest phone technology; stockholders benefit because their company makes better products; and employees benefit because they are driven by the competition to outperform the best technology in the marketplace (creating products better than they could have dreamed without the competition).

An enemy is destructive. An enemy looks for loopholes to cheat, sink, and trap those who offer similar products or services. When two companies are enemies, customers wait for products that are delayed due to lawsuits and sabotage. Employees can’t do the work that fulfills them when their projects are hibernated because their energy and resources are spent on defending instead of creating. As a result, the industry slows. Shareholders lose possible gains and pick up the expensive legal tab. The only ones who benefit are lawyers and the legal system.

When I meet a competitor, I shake their hand and smile, because I know they are going to help me become better at what I do.

Andrew J. Wilt is the author of Age of Agility, a book that addresses the skill gap between school and work. He can be reached at and on Twitter @andrewjwilt
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