Getting Ahead

23 04 2012

There is healthy and unhealthy ambition in this world—in commerce, in government, in social environs, in religion.  It is something of an art to discern the difference between the two.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” has become proverbial, highlighting the emptiness of meaningless competition with our neighbors.  If one is not careful, however, one can take this to a level that is unprofitable.  And not just in a monetary sense.

There is such a thing in this world as healthy competition.  We’ve seen the benefit of this in northern New York where I live.  For many years, this region was a tad depressed economically.  When Camp Drum became Fort Drum, home of the 10th Mountain Division, a series of economic booms ensued.  The first of these were from 1983-89.  There have been a number since as more troops have been moved here when military bases have closed over the world.  Northern New York looks nothing like it did when I first moved here twenty-four years ago.

The upshot of this has been a proliferation of service industry.  Restaurants, specialty stores, boutiques, home improvement outlets.  All sorts of new business.  The net result is that it has increased competition and caused established companies here to change the way they’ve performed in the marketplace, especially as it relates to customer service.  It’s put them on notice that they have to be on their A game to stay afloat and prosper.

What is true of commerce is also true for our careers.  Right now, we are in the midst of an economic downturn.  It is, therefore, an employer’s market.  The employee pool is loaded with capable people who need jobs.  Gone are the heady days of the mid ‘90’s.

Here’s the challenge for us: To win in a tough economic environment like this, we’ve got to improve.  The competition is stiffer now than twelve years ago.  No, it’s not a time to be afraid.  It is a time to step up and take our skills to another level entirely—in terms of increased knowledge, networks, productivity and overall competence.

How have these times helped you to increase your focus and your net worth?  What tips would you share with our readers?

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