On how to gain - and retain - a competitive advantage at work

Even working a modest 45 hours a week ('part time', I hear you cry), you'll spend a staggering 90,000 hours in the office during your life, striving to stay ahead of the competition, working your way up the ladder and trying to hit your targets.

Here's a little secret: "The only sustainable competitive advantage is the ability to learn and adapt faster than your competitors" - Arie de Geus.

So how do you do that?

What was your best subject at school? Did you enjoy it? Did you enjoy it because it was your best subject? Or was it your best subject because you enjoyed it?

Let me introduce you to the enjoy­ment cycle... No, it's not a new piece of gym kit, but if it were I'd want to know about it.

If you do something regularly, do you tend to get better or worse at it? Most will agree better.

If you're getting better and better at something, do you tend to get better results or worse?

If you're getting better and better results, do you tend to enjoy it more or less? And if you enjoy it more and more the better you get, do you tend to do more or less of it?

Now unless you're just being argu­mentative, you'll probably agree that we do more of what we enjoy and less of what we don't.

Bearing this in mind, let's explore the options:

1. Do more: Many people believe that in order to master a skill you simply need to do it again and again. However, if you do something ­badly and keep practising, you'll just get really good at doing it badly.

2. Get better: This ranks alongside 'must try harder' in the nonsense stakes. Just how do you do that?

3. Get better results: In school we were encouraged to work hard to achieve better grades, only to then forget all the information as we left the exam hall - and we have ­never used it since.

4. Enjoy it more: This is the key. It is possible to enjoy something more at any given moment.

So, try taking a task or skill that you want to improve. Rate your ­enthusiasm and then your perceived ability on a sale of one to ten. Now you know that the more fun you have, the better your results, right? What will you do differently? How can you enjoy it more? Try! Then rate one to ten.

Better? How could you move two more points up the scale now? You might put a smile on your face, think of a fun time or just decide to have some fun with these ideas instead of taking them too seriously.

After all, if you&'re going to spend 90,000 hours on something, make sure you enjoy doing it.

Ali Campbell is a life coach and NLP master