Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Understanding your competition - a lesson from Afghanistan

Nathan Peterson was an Oklahoma State University football player who is now a coach at OSU. But between his playing and coaching days, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a first lieutenant, deployed to Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, of course, the U.S. (and other) forces are fighting against the Taliban. In the course of an April 2013 interview, Peterson noted something interesting about the enemy.

They don't even know who they're fighting sometimes. They called us Russians plenty of times.

Your average U.S. person will react with a jolt at that revelation, especially if they're older. Those of us who left college long ago well remember the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, an invasion that the U.S. opposed. So to an American, being called a "Russian" by an Afghan is especially jarring.

But we have to remember the Taliban perspective. As far as the Taliban is concerned, there's no difference between a Soviet and an American. The Taliban considers both of them to be invaders in their country.

Whether in war or in business, if you fail to understand your enemy/competitor, you cannot defeat your enemy/competitor.
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