If you are successful — or plan to be –your competition is successful too. Being successful means being smart, quick, and hardworking. That’s you, but it’s also your competitors. So what better way to stay ahead of your game than to study what they do? Before taking on the Miami Dolphins in the 1972 Super Bowl, Roger Staubach spent weeks studying videotapes of the Dolphins’ defense and came up with “an imaginative offense that worked flawlessly,” according to John Steinbreder in “Chief Executive.”

When Staubach retired, he carried that lesson to his business practices. In the 1970s, he got into real estate and spent every spare moment studying real-estate practices — especially those of his most successful competitors. The result: The Staubach Co. has more than 40 offices and a workforce of 1,200 people. Not bad for an ex-jock. I have friends who make big money — I’m talking six- and seven-figure incomes — by creatively knocking off their competitors. (Second-best is second-best, but sometimes it’s not bad.)

I have clients who have come to me after their businesses have stalled. “What are your competitors doing that’s working?” I ask. They never seem to have any idea. You don’t absolutely have to pay attention to your competitors to succeed, but doing so makes your success a whole lot easier and a good deal more likely. Do you study your competitors? If not, why not?

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