Choose an Opponent

July 18, 2007 - Get free updates of new posts here

Recently I have been doing some projects very comfortably. Then one day someone started doing something similar.


Internal thoughts of Noah: “Mother Fer, Beep, Expletive, C*ck Balls, Sh**, Ass. What am I going to do?”

Then I realized I need an opponent and next time I am going to pro-actively go find one. They don’t even need to realize they are your opponent.

For example, sometimes at the gym there was someone next to me on the treadmill, I said to myself that I would stay longer on the treadmill no matter what. After they left I did a HUGE arm pump, raised the roof and continued my running.

Getting an opponent pushes you to succeed and makes me at least more paranoid not to lose. I think it depends on the person but I guess the question to ask yourself if, “are you too comfortable?”

In the great words I hope you can use from Mortal Combat one day “FINISH HIM!”

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15 responses to “Choose an Opponent

  1. Scott Hurff Reply

    So true. Complacency creeps up on you and before you know it, you’re fat and happy. To lamely quote Jim Collins (who probably quoted someone else), “don’t let good become the enemy of great.”

  2. Marianne Reply

    I refuse to stop on the elliptical until the 2 people on either side of me leave first. Then I say to myself “conquered & destroyed!” I’ve carried this into my work/social life as well, except I do a dance.

    p.s. It’s Mortal Kombat 😉

  3. Adam Reply

    Hey Noah, on the surface I agree with what you’re saying in this post (in fact, I think Tim Ferriss gave a very similar answer when I asked him how he measures performance during the Community Next conference). But…I’m still undecided on whether picking a random competitor is a good move (ie: the next guy on the treadmill). I think it might be better to compete with internal goals rather than just a random external competitor who may or may not have similar targets to yours.

    ps – enjoyed watching your video clip of the talk you gave at Berkeley…inspiring.

  4. JW Reply

    Competition definitely goes both ways. I’d prefer not to have any competition, but in any situation, and especially on the internet, success breeds a slew of copycats.

    Its annoying, but you know your successful when others try to be like you. “Imitation’s the most sincere form of flattery”

    And yes, it definitely gives you a drive to push harder. The secret to longterm success for any website is to do things that can’t be replicated overnight. This means user generated content (like this comment I’m writing), proprietary tools, and SERP rankings.

  5. Mo Kakwan Reply

    Somtimes you get effed in the aye like that one time that steven segal got up infront of a crowd and said “I CHALLANGE ANYONE IN THIS CROWD WHO THINKS THEY CAN BEAT ME UP TO A FIGHT!” … an 80 year old boxer ended up wiping the floor with his punk ass.

    Moral of the story, don’t fight old men… that were boxers… or something.

  6. Noah Kagan Reply

    Mortal Kombat, my bad.

    I am paranoid like crazy. Drives me to work much harder.

    Atish loses, in ping-pong

    You all should compete for top commenters on okdork

  7. Will Reply

    Noah,
    This does not surprise me one bit, it is your genetic make up, it is what makes you…you.

    BTW, is the competition Wesabe? I have been seeing a lot of write ups on them lately, when is Mint launching?

    Will

  8. Barney Davey Reply

    I blog about the art business. As with many others, it is rampant with knockoffs. This is a constant thorn in the side of creatives who work hard to produce something original only to see a wave of look alike work follow any success they have.

    Once any legal means has been put to use, the best thing artists coudl do would be to turn the dial on the treadmill and channel their frustration into creative energy using the slings and arrows of knockoff competitors to drive them to new heights.

  9. karen Reply

    Great post, as always. I too laughed, out loud, about the comment of ‘winning the race’ at the gym. 🙂

    Adam and I are thinking along the same lines of sometimes it’s better to have internal goals that you select as your opponent. I often set my work goals a lot higher than what others do (it’s that damn perfectionist living inside of me…) So often, others don’t challenge me enough so I have to challenge myself.

    I am definitely in the lead for top comments, at least for August. What’s the all time goal? I need something to challenge me a bit…