Business rivalries make for compelling stories -- including Thomas Edison's decision to electrocute an elephant to illustrate the dangers of alternating-current technologies and Nike's signing of Michael Jordan in a bid to upstage Reebok. Such tales also hold important lessons for today's leaders, writes Geoff Colvin. "[T]hink of these dramas as guilt-free pleasures. Then, well prepared for the task, go forth and pulverize your rivals," he writes.

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