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We Have Met the Enemy ... and He Is Us

The phrase, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” found it’s origin during the War of 1812 in which Commodore Perry reported, “We have met the enemy and they are ours,” to William Henry Harrison after the Battle of Lake Erie.

Cartoonist Walt Kelly, modified Commodore Perry’s quote to, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” in a cartoon he created in 1970 celebrating the first Earth Day in 1970. The message being that man – from his treatment of the earth – is the planet’s enemy.

In business, many spend a great deal of time focusing on, and even obsessing over, what their competition – their perceived “enemy” – may be doing to steal customers and market share. They fear that the competition will enter their space, and provide service and products equal to or better than what they are providing. This fear consumes them and their every waking moment. Yet, there is very little, if anything, one can do to influence or control what the competition will or will not do.

If you’re a business owner or leader , you must tune out the competition and focus on what you have the most control over.

Namely, your destiny and success in the form of how you structure and run your business and not what is going on around you in the outside world. Yes, market research and knowledge are important and should be factored into your strategy and planning. But, the outside world should not be the sole focus of your attention and energies.

Related: The 4 Irrefutable Laws of Business Success

Much of your time and focus should be spent on:

  • Developing and communicating a clear and crisp marketing and value proposition that your buyers can relate to. Tell your story often and everywhere your buyer can be found.
  • Selecting, developing, using and retaining the best team possible. They interact with your customers in executing your marketing message and strategy. Hire franchise players, not farm team unknowns.
  • Create the best procedures to consistently deliver the best product and customer experience that make you and your business the “only choice” in the mind of your buyers. Train your team on how to effectively use the procedures.
  • Invest time into your own personal development and the learning and development of your team . If learning isn’t ongoing, it’s not working and you’re just wasting time and money.
  • Evaluate as you go looking for every opportunity – mostly small ones – to do it better each day. Legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden once said, “Little things done on a consistent basis eventually lead to significant results.” Periodically question your status quo to avoid complacency.