Being an Olympian is hard
Being an Olympic athlete is surely one of the most gruelling forms of competition in existence. You are competing with the best of the world, all of whom have trained from a tender age and sacrificed time, tears, blood, relationships and even long term health.
The difference between gold and last place can be less than a second, less than a centimetre.
It can feel this way in any endeavour. You make widgets. Hundreds of companies can make the same widgets. You need to relentlessly pursue improvement in every aspect of your business just to stay competitive.
Or you can innovate – find a true differentiator from your competition that results in a step-change that has all your competition following your lead.
You can find your Fosbury Flop
Whereas his contemporaries were continuing to high jump feet-first or in a barrel roll over the bar, Fosbury jumped back-first. In 1964 the Medford Mail-Tribune ran a photo of Fosbury as he cleared the bar which they captioned “Fosbury Flops Over Bar,” earning the then unusual jumping style the name the “Fosbury Flop”.
Four years later at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, Fosbury stunned onlookers when he earned a gold medal with an Olympic record-setting jump of 2.24 meters.
Not bad for a guy who, according to Wikipedia, found it hard to compete with the old methods of high jump.
Only innovation can create step-change advances like this. The Fosbury Flop is a great example of SCAMPER – Rearrange, as it asks the question, “Why are we jumping in this direction when we can jump in the other?”