Your competition is not evil. Do not spend you time mocking, dissing, or belittling your competitors, as you do not win by being so negative all the time. Instead, turn your competition into your professor.
If you have people in your industry who are more successful than you, it is easy to fall into the trap of pointing out all of their flaws (to yourself and anyone else who will listen). But if they are crushing it in business, why mock them? Instead, admire their success and become a pupil of their achievements.
Thom recently heard from a friend that another speaker said something negative about his success and pointed out why he was "not so great". It made him laugh, as he recognized how he used to take a similar point of view of those who were ahead of him on the career ladder. And while everyone can fall prey to professional jealousy, he decided years ago when he would catch himself mocking somebody who was doing more in business, he would mentally make them his teacher.
What can you learn from your competition? A lot. You can do this from a distance, or by asking them to show you the ropes. Many people are surprised how often others in their same business are willing to open up and share their experiences on the road to success.
Have you visited your competitors website? If not, invite someone outside your industry to sit with you and give their "gut feeling" response when you visit the sites of several successful businesses in your vertical, and then visit your site. Look for the "feeling" that outsiders get when they see your content vs. the content of others. (make sure the person will be honest and not just tell you yours is better).
Join your trade association or other industry group, as that will put your around people in your business who are at a variety of levels. Seek out the ones who are successful and develop professional relationships and friendships with them.
Success leaves clues. If you are watching your most successful competitors they cannot help but to teach you about how to do more in your business. While a SWOT analysis is important (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and treats), do not get too focused on their weaknesses. Certainly do not use their short-falls as a way to self-justify yourself.
Do not copy your competitors, but look for the trends and success traits that you can emulate.
When all those ahead of you (and many behind you) become your professors (whether they know it or not) .... you will become much more successful.