I believe in staying focused on things that we can control and avoiding competitive distractions. In Florence, Italy, there is an old folk story about the edifice of the Pitti Palace. Hearing the story might help you remember to stick to your plan and avoid letting the competition distract you.
The Pitti Palace was begun in 1446. The building was the dream of Luca Pitti, an ambitious and wealthy banker and rival of the Medici family. Unfortunately, Pitti was determined to build a home larger and grander than any of the Medici residences, and he devoted himself to this sole purpose. This led to a loss of focus on his own business – and in the process, the loss of most of his money. He died before finishing the Palazzo Pitti.
Ninety years later, the Medici family bought the Pitti Palace from Luca’s descendants. To memorialize Pitti’s failures and the lesson therein, the Medici architects installed two unique stones on the façade – one is unusually large and the other especially small. The large stone was intended to represent Pitti’s professional potential while the very small stone represents his actual achievements. Ouch!
Perhaps Pitti’s failure to reach his full potential can serve as a reminder to keep your business on course and avoid the temptation to keep up with rivals at the expense of your mission. Did Coca-Cola pull a “Pitti” when it launched New Coke in an effort to keep pace with Pepsi’s “new generation?” Did Kmart get so hung up with Walmart’s “everyday low prices” that it forgot to follow a path of its own? Have you ever found yourself redirecting your business based on the actions of your competitors, and forgetting to stay focused on growing your business based on what makes it unique?
Regardless of how a competitor might get under your skin, Luca Pitti is always there to remind you to focus on the things you can control and avoid being distracted by one-upmanship. You will always have competitors. Just don’t let them distract you from doing what you do best.
Realize the “large stone” of your full potential.
Special thanks to Linda Prelashi for the artwork.