Competitive Advantages

I’ve been thinking about counterintuitive traits that are not so obvious competitive advantages and why. This is an attempt to list some of them, make sense of it, and reach out to others to find and compile a MECE list such traits.

  1. Willingness to be taken advantage of – This is spectrum ranging from working for free or unfair terms, to stepping down one or many levels to enter a new field / domain altogether.
  2. Things that don’t scale – This includes personally installing apps on users phones 1 at a time, regularly writing blog posts that seem to go nowhere, diligently recording videos on youtube when your channel has just 7 followers.
  3. Embracing failure / rejection

These 3 are the philosophical opposites of

  1. Focus
  2. Discipline
  3. Relentlessness

While the latter three are related to eliminating distractions and non-value adds (Eliminators), the former three are related to creating possibilities (Creators).

The Eliminators help one get better at something, the Creators help one create or discover something new. While Eliminators are obvious, the Creators are counter intuitive. Their significance is the break through / experience and not the success. Success is not assured and hence it is difficult to consider them competitive advantages. However, the payoffs for breakthroughs are exponentially higher when they work. So, 99 failures with 1 breakthrough success will very likely have a higher payoff than 100 assured improvements.

The third set of traits sits at the interstice of the Creators and the Eliminators. It includes

  1. Skeptical Optimism
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  2. Anti-Fragility – Get better irrespective of whether the stimulus is positive or negative
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  3. Multipotentiality / Polymathism
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For the lack of a better word I call these traits the Nurturers. These traits help pull the strings together, maintain balance, keep things sentient. They are the good sense to decide well, which traits will serve well in the present.

The fourth and perhaps the final set of traits exist on another dimension – Spiritual (and sometimes irrational).

These include among others

  1. God Complexes – Examples include the Reality Distortion Fields (Willing things into reality), Beliefs in Karma or own cause
  2. Unflappability
  3. Felicity of language and expression, and timing

These appear to be rare and gifted skills which an exceedingly rare set of individuals possess. I’ve tried to find good research on these topics without much success.

The traits mentioned in this post are competitive advantages when used well. They can be a liability when misguided.

This not a complete list. But a good structure to build on. The ability to fire up the appropriate traits for the appropriate context is key.

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