Imagine standing on top of the tallest mountain in a range and looking out across the horizon on a day when the sky is crystal clear. You can see for miles in every direction. There are no clouds or competing peaks impeding your view. It is endless. Breathtaking.
You inhale deeply to soak it all in, sigh a pleasant smile, and sit down to think about your business, which you’ve come here to do with a uncluttered mind. You stare off into the enormous ocean of beauty and your wheels start turning. You are seeing and thinking clearly. Everything is in sync. You begin to piece together something special. Something unique. Something new and original.
Then you happen to look behind you and see a cloud. It’s small and far away, but it disrupts your thoughts ever so slightly. You recognize it, turn back around, and re-focus your eyes on the endless expanse of sky in front of you.
You are back in rhythm when another cloud appears in your periphery. Then another. You turn and notice clouds on either side of you and behind you. The view ahead remains crystal clear, but it is getting harder to ignore what surrounds you in other directions.
Your train of thought is disrupted. You become distracted, anxious. You can no longer gaze calmly forward and maintain a clear, unfettered imagination. Your plan, your idea, your stroke of brilliance, your vision … becomes blurred. Hazy.
The clouds are competitors. And if you let them they will distract you and keep you from being your most creative, your most imaginative. From soaking in the crisp clarity in front of you and thinking of original, unique, and special ideas.
This is an admittedly dramatic analogy for how I used to feel when I visited our competitors’ web sites and paid attention to what they were doing, or what products they were launching, or what announcements they had made. But the point is that I scale that mountain often, and when I learned to train my focus on the horizon ahead of me, and stop allowing even brief glimpses at the clouds, I began to think as clearly as the image you are seeing right now of the view from that mountain top. Ideas such as our book and our video series came to me easily. Ideas that would have never had a chance to take shape had I let the clouds around me engulf them before they formed.
I’ll be the first to tell you take this nothing more than just one guy’s dogma. But if you are struggling with how to differentiate from your competition, with how to be unique and original and clearly delineate your business from the rest of the pack, why not try sitting atop your mountain and averting your eyes from the clouds for a while? It’s hard at first. It feels unconventional. Uncomfortable. And frankly unwise. But just try it and see what happens.
If you have the same experience I did, each day it gets easier, and one day you’ll wake up and find it hard to believe those clouds are even still there, because your eyes will be trained to only look ahead into the eternal sea of blue, and you’ll have the clarity and focus you need to create or build or write or design things that will amaze your audience, and perhaps even yourself.