How to win any competition

I always love when people don’t try for something because they’re sure they won’t get it.

  • “I’m not going to apply to XYZ College…I’ll never get in, and even if I did, I could never afford it.”

  • “There’s no way I would ever get that job…you need 10 years of experience.”

  • “What? Enter that contest? There are probably 5,000 other people doing it.”

YES! THEY’RE RIGHT! They’re never going to win…because they already eliminated themselves from any consideration.

One of the best principles I’ve ever learned is, “Don’t do their job for them.” Let the admissions committee reject you, if they decide you’re not right. Don’t do their job for them.

Your job is to apply and give yourself every advantage in winning. But the fear of rejection makes most of us not even want to step to the plate.

I’ve written about this in the Craigslist Penis Effect. That’s when other people are so terrible that you win just by simply being “adequate.” It’s one of the ways I managed to win $100,000+ in college scholarships to pay my way through undergrad and grad school at Stanford. And to get my own phrase listed on UrbanDictionary. My parents are so proud.

Today, I’ve invited Jay Cross, creator of DIY Degree and my former editor, to share a fascinating new framework on changing the way you think about taking risks.

I love his approach because so many top performers intuitively do this — but he’s written it down into a usable framework for us all. When you hear yourself saying, “Eh…I could never never get that,” you can use Jay’s strategies to reconceptualize the way you think about risk and success.

Put another way: Let others select themselves out of the race, while you can push through your barriers and win.

Here’s Jay.

*   *   *

I’m going to let you in on the best-kept secret of competing.

If five hundred people enter a contest, maybe ten of them will be truly world-class. The rest filter themselves out for you. Meaning if you really dedicate yourself, you only have to beat ten people!

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