434714-ibm-vs-apple-1984In the annals of great product innovation, the Apple Macintosh is legendary. With Macintosh, Apple introduced a computer that wowed people with its elegant user interface, 3d graphics, document templates and selection of fonts.

The creation of the Mac was driven by a very creative and dedicated team, led by a product visionary in Steve Jobs. As Apple veteran Guy Kawasaki detailed in his book, “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy,” the Apple team possessed an extra degree of motivation – the desire to destroy a ‘good enemy’.

That enemy was IBM. Apple viewed IBM as a large, autocratic and user-unfriendly organization. The desire to compete against, and defeat IBM provided the extra level of motivation needed to deliver the ‘insanely great’ product – Macintosh – to market.

There are many examples in sports of people achieving greatness through the desire to defeat a combatant. In the 1980’s, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova established the greatest rivalry in the history of women’s tennis. Neither player would have achieved their level of excellence without the motivation to compete against, and beat each other in grand slam events. Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson, and Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning are more recent examples of achieving greatness spurred by a competitive ‘enemy.’

Do you need an extra level of motivation to achieve your individual or organizational goals? It might be time to find an enemy. Make sure you pick a good one – an enemy that is smart, successful and motivated. A good enemy is often one that is bigger and more established than you in the market. At the same time, your enemy likely possesses a weakness that you can exploit with your own strengths. In the words of Jesuit scholar Baltasar Gracian, “A wise person gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.”

So find a good enemy and get the competitive fires burning. It may propel you to greater success and you will probably have more fun in the journey!