This week, I’ve been reading through the Brains on Fire book, brought to you by the awesome word of mouth marketing agency of the same name.

The folks from Brains on Fire represent a new breed of marketing agency–they’re a group of talented, creative people who help brands create movements where brands and customers come together to accomplish a common goal.

I got my first taste of the Brains on Fire group when I met Geno Church at a social media conference last year.  Geno’s “official” title is Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer, but he’s really one of those guys for whom a title does no justice.  He’s fiery.  He’s passionate.  He geeks out to Jason Mraz.

So naturally when the Brains on Fire book came out, I had to snatch it up.  I haven’t even made it through the introduction and damn, I’m already glad I did.

Here are a couple of things that I couldn’t wait to share with you…

Focus on what you are.

If you’ve been around the blog for any length of time, you’re probably learning that I get excited when I hear something that moves me.  Here’s a passage from The Brains on Fire introduction that breathed some fire into my heart:

“It seems there are legions of companies out there that are trying to kill and replace the market leaders.  But all they seem to do is look like copycats.  Face it: You’re late to the game.  And if you spend all your R&D, time, and energy obsessing over the market leader, you’re screwed before you even come to market–because you’re focused on what you’re not, instead of on what you are. And you can’t build a product–or an identity–on what you lack.  So stop trying to ‘kill’ anything, and instead, nurture and grow your own idea into something the likes of which has never before been seen.  Soon enough, you’ll be the one that everyone else is trying to kill.” – Brains on Fire

Sit on that idea for a second, and then let’s break those bold parts down with a play-by-play.

You are what you are.  Embrace it.

This is an idea that bleeds over in both business and personal development.

I’ve got a friend, Lindsay–we’ll call her Lindsay–who lets much of who she is be defined by her imperfections.  She obsesses over what she lacks, spending more energy reacting to what she perceives as shortcomings and forgetting that she’s an awesome girl with so much to offer the world.

To put it another way, “You will never outperform your self image.” If you believe that you’re inadequate, you will continue to be so.

Heck, I do it.  I’m having a rough month, and my poor bank account is crawling around on the floor.  If I continue to believe that I am broke, I’ll continue to act accordingly.

It’s like saying, “I could be rich if only I had friends like Richard Branson,” or “I can’t really help others until I earn my doctoral degree.”  Take some responsibility.  You don’t need someone’s permission to change the world.  You don’t need money, or power, or friends in “high places” to make change.  All you need is to put your focus on what you do have and leverage those strengths for good.

This starts with embracing that which you have to offer, and nurturing those qualities into an something awesome.  That’s not to say that you should ignore your imperfections–we are human, after all.  Instead, accept that you’re imperfect and use positive energy to build who you are.  My friend Lindsay is a stellar girl, and once she learns to embrace how awesome she really is, she will be an even more powerful influence on the people around her.

Forget the “competition” and focus on being the best that you can be.

You already know that I believe that for any business or person of real value, there is no such thing as competition.

Riffing off of the last section, one thing that all successful people share is a clear understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing with the world and unending perseverance in accomplishing that goal.  They propel themselves to where they want to be by developing a combination of clarity and laser focus on what they want to accomplish.

Do you really believe that crushing your competition is going to propel you to where you want to be? All that you will accomplish by trying to kill off your competition is diverting your attention from your mission, which is a recipe for failure.

Let your “competitors” do their thing; there is plenty of room to change the world and there is plenty of business to go around.  You just focus on what you can do best.  Pick that one thing at which you can be the best in the world and run with it.  It starts now.

To wrap it up, build on your strengths and get your ass in gear.

Rather than blaming something outside of your control–other people, the qualities in which you lack, your “competitors”–embrace what you have and use it as a tool to accomplish your goals.

No one in the history of mankind has become successful by complaining about that which they didn’t have.  They become successful by knowing what they do have and moving forward, building upon their strengths along the way.

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