I’ve had the same group of friends since middle school. We are a pack of 14 — if you can believe that. And it is them I blame for my lack of education on the topic of competition in business, especially when it comes to female rivalry.
After I graduated college, I left my besties and moved to Los Angeles for work. It was there I learned that making girlfriends wasn’t very simple. Guy friends? No problem. Ladies to lunch with? Not so easy.
When we’re climbing, we need help. Our opponents are sometimes available to offer assistance — if we’re willing to accept. Competitors can be a distraction that causes us to fall or valuable travel companions willing to share their maps.
Here are four ways to avoid comparing yourself to the competition and start taking them up on all they can offer.
1. Stay in Your Lane
You know when you’re stuck in traffic and the lane next to you seems to be zipping off, while you’re basically in park? You begin to get obsessed with the cars next to you and their speed. Before you know it, you’re so caught up in their story that you forget to look ahead.
The same rings true in our businesses and careers. Rather than becoming engrossed in what your competition is doing, it’s a much better use of your time to focus on your own business. Those 30 minutes you spent stalking their press page could have been used for closing in on a new client or partaking in an activity that enhances your career.
You may not think you’re spending a lot of time looking at the other lane, but all that time and energy adds up. Harmless digging can easily lead to finding something that will annoy you for the rest of the day. You have better things to do with your time.
2. Join Forces
I can’t think of a writing opportunity I’ve received that didn’t come from another writer. As technology continues to connect us more, our industries are becoming more intimate. The opportunities you’re looking for are probably being offered to your competition. But you know what? She’s not going to be able to accept every single one. Some won’t be the right fit. Others will be bad timing. When she’s ready to hand them off, you want her to hand them off to you.
I was included in Marie Claire’s December 2014 issue, which featured fashionable Miami ladies. A colleague of mine was approached for the piece, and she later brought me in because the magazine needed more people. Guess what? I made the cut — but my friend didn’t. Do you think she cared? No way. She high-fived me the minute she found out. Why? Because she knows there are enough press opportunities out there for everyone.
3. Focus on What Makes You (and Your Brand) Special
Some people like Kotex, and some people like Tampax. Is one better than the other? Maybe, but it really just comes down to preference.
You are not exactly the same as anyone else, which is why in business (and in life) we have to embrace the parts that make us different, quirky, and maybe a little bit strange.
Some people come to me for writing and blogging mentorship because I have a heavy media background and I have a girl-next-door kind of look. But others may prefer to be taught blogging by someone who is a professional blogger (which I’m not) with an edgier style. Neither of us is less than. We’re just different.
If we are consumed by competition, it is very easy to lose our sense of identity. Each time we react to a move made by the opponent, we risk damaging our brand by making choices that don’t truly represent what we believe. And brands that aren’t honest are finding it really hard to survive these days.
4. Support Other Businesses (and Women) in Your Industry
My first book signing was attended by those same 14 women I’ve known since middle school, plus a bunch of other writing friends. Because if anyone can appreciate the work it takes to write a book, it’s those who write for a living, too. They snapped photos and asked their social media friends to buy my book.
A colleague of mine came out with a new guided meditation album. I was so proud of her. I made sure to share it with my network. I sell guided meditations (for writers and creative types) on my site, too. Competition? I guess. Am I worried I’m missing out on business because of my recommendation? No.
In fact, I think it makes my readers love me more, because they can tell I truly want them to have all the resources out there — beyond just what I can offer them.