September 10, 2014 1:23 pm

Competition pushes you to do your best. Runners go faster when there is someone racing them. Job seekers bring their all to an interview, especially when they know many people are qualified for a position. Cooks and bakers add special flair and secret ingredients to their recipes for a contest. Competition motivates and inspires us to give a little extra effort that sets us apart from others we’re contending against. The same goes for inventions. Although there may be a product similar to an idea that you have, it’s always possible to improve on something if you think creatively. Competition should not hinder you from coming up with a new invention; in fact, it should encourage you!

Let’s Shed Some Light

One of the best historical examples of this is Thomas Edison and the incandescent light bulb. Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but he had an idea on how to improve it. Many different people tried many different versions of incandescent electric lamps, but that didn’t stop Edison from improving on the light bulb and creating the first commercially practical incandescent light. Edison may not have invented the first light bulb, but his name is probably the first that comes to mind. This is because he embraced the competition and created something better than other scientists dreamed up. Edison’s perseverance in the face of hardship led him to invent one of the most useful products our world has ever known. He offers us some words of wisdom for when you’re faced with competition: “There’s a way to do it better. Find it.”

Battle of the Smart Phones

The smart phone industry can give us a more modern example of how competition can affect innovation and quality. The most common smart phones in the United States are iPhones, followed by various Samsung phones. It’s true that these two have huge market shares, but there are other companies constantly coming up with new smartphone designs. Many developers are in the lab right now hard at work to design a better camera, fingerprint scanner, or mobile connection that will compete directly with Apple and Samsung. Amazon, for example, has come out with a smart phone that allows you to find and purchase objects by simply scanning them. These companies don’t just stop because their competition came out with something new; they put on their thinking caps and create an innovative new product.

Rivalry: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Let’s take a step away from technology and break this down into something as relatable as breakfast cereal. The breakfast cereal industry is worth over $13 billion dollars in the U.S. Some of the brands that first come to mind are Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds, Frosted Flakes, and Lucky Charms. These cereal brands all have one common ancestor: Granula, invented in 1863, which is now unheard of. As cereal expanded and more brands tried to get into the industry, companies were forced to somehow make their products different. Some included toys in the box or activities on the outside. Other brands added healthier options or tasty chocolate morsels. The added features provided value for the brands and differentiated them from each other. Even today, there are new cereal brands and flavors in the grocery store aisle every week. Competition in this industry caused creators to think outside the (cereal) box and invent a product that would stand out.

Competition can be a breeding ground for new, innovative ideas. Rivalry often encourages people to push harder, think more creatively, and create a better (or different) product. If you’re stuck on an idea that may already be a product, think about how you can change your idea to make it stand out. History shows that competition is not an excuse to quit; it is a reason to try harder.


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