I’ll admit it – I’m a very competitive person. I like winning. I like feeling successful. But, until a few years ago I was not very good at embracing my competition. I didn’t believe that there was enough room for all of us to succeed. When I came across someone with a stunning website, a new book release, or prominent media attention, I would feel instantly jealous and threatened. I would assume that their success meant there was less available for me. It did not feel good.
Image: Carly Waters Style
All of this changed a few years ago. A woman named Carly, who had recently left her law career to become a professional organizer, reached out to connect with me. I had been a solo entrepreneur for years, and while I loved what I did, I had also found it isolating. Carly and I connected right away, and when she invited me to join her for lunch with several other professional organizers the next time I was in LA, I jumped at the chance.
That was when everything shifted. I instantly connected with the other women who showed up for that lunch. We talked for hours about business and motherhood and juggling our busy lives. One by one, we opened up about our challenges, and jumped in to share resources. It didn’t take long for all of the walls to come down.
Image: Practically Perfect
What struck me was that it was clear we were all hungry to connect, collaborate, and support each other, even though we were in the exact same industry building similar businesses. I was incredulous that this could be possible but so excited to be proven wrong.
Fast forward a few years and this circle of supportive women has evolved and just keeps growing. We send each other referrals, share resources, and help promote each other. I am genuinely excited to celebrate their successes. Many have become my dear friends. But here’s the craziest part – not only have I become friends with my competition, I have seen that we have all become more successful not in spite of, but because we support each other.
Image: Jean Gordon Style
Because of my experiences over the past few years, my mindset has totally shifted. When I notice someone killing it and feel a pang of jealousy, I now reach out to connect instead of allowing myself to get paralyzed with envy or insecurity. Although it’s sometimes scary to take a risk and put yourself out there, I’ve been humbled by the reaction. Across the board, it seems that most people are eager to connect.
So, simply put, here’s why you should not only embrace, but love your competition:
Your Competition Can Help You Identify What’s Possible
Don’t take another person’s success as a sign that you’re losing, take it as a sign of what’s possible. I remember seeing my colleague, Beth from Bneato Bar, collaborate with some prominent bloggers a few years ago. The idea had never occurred to me, but after connecting with Beth (who was kind enough to encourage me) I was inspired to reach out and set up some great collaborations of my own. Your competition may be two steps ahead of you, but instead of feeling jealous, take notes and go out and create what you want!
You Can Clarify your Own Goals
Jealousy is a great roadmap to our desires. I’ve learned to be curious when I feel jealous, and to take notes. Let your feelings of jealousy help clarify what you want, or don’t want, in your own life. Once you’ve identified what you’re seeking, you can stop worrying about what someone else is doing and put your energy into moving towards your own goals.
It’s A Major Confidence Builder
The better your competition does, the better it is for you, because their success validates the industry that you’re working in. It is your choice whether you’re going to be intimidated by your competition or embrace them. By asking your competition to meet for coffee, you are showing your own strength and allowing for the possibility of collaboration and growth for both of you.
Image: Carly Waters Style
Your Competitor May Become Your Best Friend
You most likely have a lot in common with your direct competition. Maybe you are driven by the same things, share common interests or goals, or all of the above. By rejecting your competition you may be missing out on connecting with your new BFF.
Image: Life In Jeneral
It Feels Good to Be Generous
I know a brilliant teacher who encourages her students to use any of her content for their own businesses without even crediting her. I aspire to have that level of confidence in my own ability to create content, and to exercise the same generosity of spirit to invest in other people’s success. Let’s root for each other and help each other grow.
Image: Clutter Healing
Simply put, when women support each other incredible things can happen. There is no gain in tearing others apart, no virtue in attacking or belittling your competitors. It feels so much better to come from a place of abundance and to choose to believe that there is enough pie for all of us. And really, who doesn’t like pie?
Image: Simply Spaced
Thank you to the following women for contributing their beautiful work to be featured in this post. I am inspired by all of them, and I am honored to call them my competitors, colleagues, and friends.