Dave Longaberger, (1934-1999) founder of the Longaberger Company, which makes handmade baskets and other house and lifestyle products. 

I’ve never measured my success by how well I competed against others. This may sound strange because from the time we start school we learn to compete in the classroom for good grades. Later in sports, we’re taught to beat our opponent. There’s no question heavy competition is a big part of our American culture. Some people even say it’s the backbone of our free enterprise system. I’m all for free enterprise, and I am not one to back down, but in truth, I have never been motivated to beat the competition. Instead, I have always tried to beat myself. That’s right, I compete against myself. I have always set a personal standard for what I want to achieve, and I work toward that goal. When I reach it, I set a higher goal and go after that.

Frankly, I don’t care what the competition is doing. It’s okay with me if the other guy gets his. More power to him. What really motivates me is doing better than I’ve done before and improving myself along the way. I also try to inspire my employees to strive to do their best. I discourage them from competing against each other. “Just be the best you can be”, I say and “let’s work together so we can be the best team.” Not a team that competes against other teams, but a team that pulls together towards one common goal – to be the best possible company we can be. I believe this can be applied to every business, whether it’s a restaurant, grocery store, or large manufacturing company.

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