Your Competitors Are Not Your Enemies

Your Competitors Are Not Your Enemies

I’m the elephant in the background watching the two gazelles about to fight.

Ever had to sit through some rah-rah corporate meeting about crushing the competition? I was forced to attend one that was pretty odd. They played montages from sports movies and capped everything off with “We Are The Champions” by Queen. Good song, no doubt, but I don’t want to get to work two hours early to eat dusty-ass bagels and have faux motivational crap pushed on me. I’ll freely admit that I’m a cantankerous introvert but I have to imagine that most people dislike phony baloney junk. They also handed out free miniature bottles of Gatorade at the end of the meeting LOL. I guess all of that dry bagel eating and watching clips of Kurt Russell in Miracle dehydrates the body. (At least give me some good schmear if you’re gonna provide the bagels. Gah.)

Evidently, the purpose of this meeting was to instill in all of us the idea that any competitor was an enemy designed to be crushed like a bug beneath our shoes. To me, this is the same type of distorted thinking I see on LinkedIn with panderers who want to “take the power back” from recruiters to give to the candidates. I mean, WTF does that mean anyway?

It’s not about everyone else anyway.

If you’re spending a lot of time monitoring what everyone else is doing, positive or negative, you’re not doing yourself any favors. To clarify: I am not suggesting you ignore market trends, new technology, or emerging developments. I’m saying this in the sense of cyberstalking and looky-looing at what others are doing. Whether it’s something that intimidates you or something that you want to heckle like Statler & Waldorf from the Muppets, it pulls your attention away from yourself and puts you in a negative frame of mind. Not good.

The Kevin story.

I have a friend-in-law named Kevin. When he was in college, message boards, AOL IM, and chat rooms were all the rage. (Back then, that stuff was our social media.) Kevin’s grades started to slip. He was missing classes and seemed isolated. His parents made a special trip to the school to check on him and have a come-to-Jesus meeting. They thought he was using drugs and partying. Nope. Kevin had become addicted to the internet. He would spend HOURS upon HOURS on message boards posting about politics. It had become his whole life. His dad was relieved he wasn’t shooting up heroin, but was certainly frustrated. He said, “Son, this is ridiculous. You’re spending all this time and effort arguing with weird strangers on the internet that you’ve never even met! You don’t have to attend every fight you get invited to.” And so it is for us: you don’t have to creep on everyone else’s website, FB page, etc., and agonize over what they are or are not doing. What you are best at and what you have to offer to the market is different from the next guy anyway. Stop diminishing your own value.

When two tribes go to war…

“When two tribes go to war, a point is all that you can score.” -Frankie Goes To Hollywood

Your competitors are not your enemies. They are not bugs to be crushed under your feet. Trust me for a minute and try something. Think about a place you really, really like. It can be anywhere– a beach, a lake, the mountains, Disneyland, wherever. Think about the things you enjoy about it. I’ll do it, too. At the back of my farm, there’s a wooded area with a creek. The water flows over rocks and there are a lot of beautiful trees and plants. The water is cool year-round and it always feels peaceful. I think my blood pressure dropped a good 10 points just typing those sentences for you. Now go in a different direction. Think about phrases like: We gotta crush the competition! They’re all a buncha stupid bastards. They’re all out to get us. There’s not enough to go around and we gotta get our share. If we don’t screw them, they’ll screw us. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. We damn well better win. We’ll steal their clients and make them wish they were never born! Can you feel the difference between the two? As you are managing your staff or prospecting for new business, which space do you want to be in? Do you want to be the pissed off rager who thinks there’s not enough to go around or do you want to feel at ease as you walk through your day? The entire concept of the “type A personality” was born when two doctors noticed the tense, always irritated, hurry-the-hell-up behavior of cardiac patients. Don’t do that to yourself. Don’t drive yourself into an early grave or give yourself a litany of health problems. If you’re starting from a place of rage, insecurity, or jealousy, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to climb all the way up to a place of peace, joy, and gratitude.

Are you a recovering Type A personality? Are you ready to operate your business with a feeling of ease and happiness? Let’s talk about it.

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