I was 15-years-old and about to start my after-school job at the local gym my brother and his family owned.
As I walked into work, members of the gym were asking me questions.
“How come your brother’s talking to that guy in his office?”
“The guy that owns the gym that other people work out at – you know – the competition?”
“Hmmmm…I have no idea.”
I took a stroll by the office where this chat was taking place and I saw two men in conversation – wasn’t sure what the big fuss was about.
Being the nosy sister I am – and super curious why people were shocked about this meeting – after the gentleman left, I went in and asked my brother what the meeting was all about.
My bro was like, “Well, so and so wanted to know how we ran our EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) system and so I told him.”
Easy as that.
One dude helping another dude out.
Back in the late 90’s EFT was a brand-new way of collecting money. Our small town gym was one of the “pioneers” in doing gym memberships through EFT.
And others wanted to adopt it.
Instead of my brother being stingy, or thinking he was lacking anything by “giving away” his EFT experience and set-up – he happily obliged in sharing what he knew about it.
And neither business was negatively affected by my brother showing another gym owner how to collect money electronically; it appeared this experience only lent support to a business each of them loved so much.
Nature Versus Nurture
If we’re going to consider nature versus nurture when it comes to competition – I’m going to have to go with I just wasn’t born with a competitive bone in my body.
Now my husband on the other hand – the guy is competitive.
He thinks it’s healthy and when it comes to sports especially, he loves nothing more than blasting a ball out of the field and obliterating a bat while he’s at it.
Me? Not a feeling like that in my entire life.
Am I not competitive because sports have never been my thing?
(I mean, you guys, I played basketball once and acted like a ballerina trying to get the ball in the hoop. And there was a time playing tennis with my friends I thought I was hilarious and got myself wrapped in the net. I’m that good.)
Am I not competitive because my parents never pushed me to excel?
(As long as I was breathing and happy, that was winning in their book.)
Am I not competitive because I’m afraid to be?
(Is this an upper limit problem? Am I scared of rejection?)
I examine my view on competition because not only do I NOT feel inclined to compete with others, I feel that way in most areas of my life, especially business.
When I first started out online I heard the line, “Collaboration over competition.”
I know that’s probably been said by everyone and their online business mother, but it felt so damn right to me.
As right as non-dairy creamer feels in my coffee.
Why I Don’t Believe in Competition (Especially in Business)
Obviously, we’ve established it’s in my nature-bones I don’t feel the need to be competitive with others.
But, what about competition with my own damn self?
Is there such a thing?
Does that mean you’re a perfectionist, if so?
I’m not sure what textbooks or scholars say about this, but my take is I’d rather be “competitive” with myself than anyone or anything else.
I can control myself (if I’m not throwing too many margaritas back, that is), but I can’t control others – especially in business.
I can’t control your business and how you advertise.
I can’t control your marketing and how you show up in your newsletter, social media and website.
I can’t control what videos you make on YouTube, or how you structure your sentences, or how you network with other entrepreneurs.
But I CAN control showing up in my own unique way and tell my stories the only way I know how.
I CAN control what works for my business and my life and let that be the centerpiece of how I run things – not how I’m “supposed” to do life and business.
Because I’d rather spend my time focusing on how I can show up – with my distinct gifts – than worry what the “competition” is doing.
People (along with their business) are going to show up either way – and so am I.
Because there’s room for all of us.
Drive down any Main street and notice all of the shops.
Ever see two convenience stores across the street from each other? I always thought that was so crazy. But what I’ve witnessed is a steady stream of business to both stores.
I’m not saying competition is a bad thing.
If that works for you – work it.
In business, however, if it’s driving you nuts what your competitors are doing or not doing – perhaps you rethink your relationship to competition.
What if, instead of focusing on what others are doing, you pour that energy into your business.
Invest in yo’damn self!
There’s a difference between market research (aka, what are my “competitors” doing) versus allowing that to bring you down, become reactive or sway you from YOUR vision.
Because you probably have no idea what another business owner’s intentions are and what they’re sacrificing (or not sacrificing) to achieve certain goals.
Create a business (and life) that lights your candle and your people will find you.
Some people/business dig a properly placed F-bomb.
Some people/business don’t.
Some people/business have strict return policies.
Some people/business don’t.
Some people/business believe in using social media.
Some people/business don’t.
That’s the beauty in it all: YOU GET TO MAKE IT YOUR OWN.
So don’t waste another hot minute on what you “should” do, or what your competitor’s doing.
Question what YOU want to do.
What you CAN do.
And show up right there and use your time and energy like a mo’fo.
Love + Leaning into Nature,