In the movie Top Gun, Maverick and Goose are flying in close formation with Iceman in a training manoeuvre as they try to shoot down a much nimbler fictitious Russian MiG fighter. Maverick having been accused of abandoning his wingmen in the past, is sticking tight to Iceman but clearly has “the shot”.

Maverick pleads with Iceman to break off and let him take the shot. Iceman’s rebuttal is that he only needs a few more seconds to acquire the target. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, Iceman capitulates and breaks hard right as Maverick has requested and that’s when things get really ugly for Maverick and Goose.

When Iceman finally relinquished his position by breaking hard right, the airflow over the wings of Maverick’s plane became disrupted. What was once clear air flowing across his wings, turned into a vortex of turbulent erratic air. This clear air disruption meant the plane’s wings lost their lift capabilities. Suddenly, the plane was into a flat spin, from which Maverick couldn’t recover and cost Goose his life.

It’s good enough for me

Of course, this was fictional, but serves as a great example of what happens to too many businesses that don’t set their own strategy. They blindly follow a competitor’s lead assuming all along that “if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.” But what you don’t know is, what conditions they are operating under.

Thoughtlessly following a competitor’s strategy is just being lazy and leaves you vulnerable. Taking the time to set your own course is time well spent.

Your flight path

Charting your own flight path minimizes the risk of being caught up in a competitor’s vortex. You decide what to sell, who you want to sell to and where you want to sell. Paying too much attention to your competitor, restricts your ability to come up with creative solutions. Just because it’s never been done before, does mean it can’t.

Throughout my career I’ve broken the rules many times and received very little push back. In most cases it opened up a huge competitive gap that gave me a significant advantage over my competition. I didn’t have to wait for them to clear out of the way, because I wasn’t following anybody, as I had clear air all the way.

Clear air

How do you find clear air? Most of the time, it’s simply a matter of looking around and seeing what others outside of your industry are doing. We get so immersed in our industries, that we forget that people are doing new and creative things everywhere, in every industry and every day. You need to be aware of your surroundings, of what’s going on around. Once you develop this habit, you’ll begin to see a myriad of new ideas or opportunities that others have overlooked.

Copyright © Greg Weatherdon 2019

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