Competition vs. Cooperation

I Like to Stay in My Lane

A few weeks ago some of my supervisees suggested that I create a training similar to a colleague’s very popular training event. It is a training this colleague has offered for years. It is part of her niche/specialty. Their recommendation seemed to come from the mindset “Ooh that person is doing something profitable…so why not do the same thing?”

I took a few minutes to explain to them the following:

  • (1) I’m not interested in training on that topic;
  • (2) I have very good relationship with that colleague and I think she does a great job with that event;
  • (3) I would like to preserve the mutually respectful professional relationship that I have with her.

We all have direct competition in our fields of practice. It doesn’t matter what type of work you do. Someone else is doing the same work. They have the same niche. That is exactly as it should be because there are many people to serve and thus a need for many providers.

It’s not unethical to directly compete with a colleague, but in some cases it can be in poor taste. Why risk a long term and mutually beneficial relationship with a person who refers to you and to whom you refer…for temporary gain? I prefer to maintain cooperative relationships rather than build competitive ones.

I respect the work that my colleague does and she respects mine. We do have some naturally occurring continuing education workshops that compete with one another. These are incidental and not purposeful.

I know some people feel that competition brings out the best in them. I am not one of those people. Worthwhile connections bring out the best in me. I have built my practice on that principle.

We Often See the Outcome and Not the Process

Many people want to go out and replicate what others have built. Often they have very little idea about the process involved. They have a limited to no understanding of the work it took or the sacrifices made. They simply don’t know the cost.

Sometimes people want to pursue what they perceive as “easy.” And when it becomes challenging, they want to give up. In order to build whatever is yours to build, you have to have a commitment to the process. Many are committed to the outcome. The outcomes you are seeking will not be attained if you don’t do the work. You can’t attain the outcome if you don’t do every step along the way repeatedly. You don’t just engage in the process. You must engage in the process even when it is hard…even as life throws you its inevitable curve balls. You won’t maintain the outcomes you achieve if you don’t engage in the process again and again.

The Process

  • Envision – What do you want to do/sell/provide? Make sure that you change and grow over time…you must re-envision as things change. As you change and as the world changes.
  • Create – Build it. Keeping creating and building. Build your storefront, your office, your online presence; your logo; your products and services. Re-tool those programs, products and services as needed.
  • Market – Tell people about it. Show it to people. Remind them. Build relationships that people value and want to engage in. They will tell others about you and so on. Make it easy for people to find you online.
  • Sell – Create a way for people to buy the service or product. Try to make it easy or work to simplify that process.
  • Redeem/Repeat – Experience the positive rewards and success of your work. Account for your earnings. Build a plan for your present and future. Go back to envisioning.

Character vs. Talent

Professional relationships matter. Character and integrity play an important role in the development of professional relationships.

Talent and skills are important and on some occasions people will put up with poor character because of talent. But the truth is for most of us there is a cost for treating people poorly, being disrespectful, abusing power, and/or being self absorbed.

Just because you are talented at a handful of things doesn’t mean that everything will be your forte.  I think it is best to couple talent or even mediocrity with character. If you try to do the right thing by people and make choices based on doing what is right…people will notice. They will want to work with you.

Likewise, if people who have gotten to know you are steering clear of you – there is a reason. Additionally people will give you feedback. Do you listen? Do you dismiss it? How often do you need to start over somewhere new?

I recently heard a story about an independent film director who said, “When I have to cast a film and I have a choice between someone who is very talented but difficult to work with and someone who is less talented but easy to work with…I choose the person who will get along with everyone and is of good character.”

You Don’t Have to Chase Opportunity

The truth is…you don’t have to chase opportunity. It is better to create it.

  • You create it by being authentic.
  • By showing up.
  • By being present when you show up.

You create opportunity by not always thinking about the next thing.

  • Don’t devalue what is right before you by attending to something else.
  • Don’t devalue your current experience by comparing it to someone else’s.
  • Don’t even compare it to your expectations. Just celebrate what it is and you will be cultivating the soil for more of the same or for something different.
  • Don’t be so rigid that your greatest opportunities pass you by.

Learn the lessons from your experiences.


Copyright © 2017 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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