Very few people in everyday forms of competition have enemies. Sure, enemies are common in comic books, movies, and TV. Certainly, there are political enemies and enemies on the battlefield, but in everyday life? Most people who are concerned about their “enemies” simply fail to understand their real competitive situation.
Would Patrick Mahomes fail to take advice from Tom Brady or any other opposing quarterback? He wouldn’t have gotten to where he is if he had that attitude.
In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, used a Chinese character translated as “enemies” means “fellow noblemen.” In other words, they are the people most like you, that is, the people to whom you are compared. These people challenge us and force us to become better. They are also those who can give us the best insights about our competitive arena. They share more aspects of our situation than anyone else.
Productive competition is not working to destroy others, but working to move ourselves toward our own goals. The easiest way to do that is to develop competitive positions that people want to support rather than oppose. We should not be looking to take another position but to create our own. One that even our fellow competitors will support. In the process of advancing our position, creating conflict with our fellow competitors instead of working with them is costly and stupid.