Embrace your competitors

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It has taken me almost 40 years to realize that I have nothing to fear from the smarter, better looking and more organized competitors in my field.  Probably around preschool I became aware that there were some students in the class that wore better clothes, got their assignments done faster and always shot their hand up first to answer the teacher’s question.

For a long time, I was bothered by it, since I inherited perfectionist tendencies and the unabashed desire to please everyone.

But now that I am older and more grizzled in the art of life, I have come to realize that running into people who are doing what I thought was my life’s purpose better than me is a great blessing.  For example:

I got a massive creative brainstorm for the outline of a book, Escape from Cubicle Nation.  I spent a couple of months fleshing it out, then had the good fortune of running into Rich Sloan of Startup Nation.  He was very interested in working with me and helping to promote my book.  The snag was that when I shared the outline with him, he said “Great!  I love the content!  The only problem is, my brother and I already wrote that book, Startup Nation:  Open for Business.”  After an embarrassing silence, I sheepishly said “Maybe I should read your book first, then we can talk.”  I bought and read the book and loved it!  They covered much of what I wanted to cover in mine.  The good thing is that it has forced me to get much more specific in the content that my readers would find useful and compelling.  And Rich is an awesome partner that I am excited about working with on many ventures.

A short time after reading their book, I found the excellent Kiss Off Corporate America: A Young Professional’s Guide to Independence by Lisa Kivirist.  Once again, I said “Damn!  She wrote about what I wanted to say!”  But I found myself thoroughly enjoying her angle, described on the cover as “What Color is Your Parachute meets The Road Less Traveled, packaged for the MTV generation.”

And then there are competent and capable writers and bloggers who share my target market like Laurel Delaney from Escape from Corporate America ( I swear I didn’t steal her title … I never saw her blog or article until 3 months into writing mine) or Karyn Greenstreet from Passion for Business: the Self Employment Blog.

I could easily shrink back from my bold vision for my book the more I see the good quality of work that is already available for my people.  But instead, I am continuing to dig deeper for the truly unique, valuable and interesting book that is inside me.  I doubt that any of these smart, funny, talented and capable writers share my unique history of 12 years of intense martial arts training.  Or that they speak four languages as I do.  Or that they lived through a hellacious relationship.  Or that they built their successful businesses quite the way I did mine. Or that they lived the stress of poor financial habits early in their careers.  These experiences are uniquely mine, and will resonate with a particular group of people that will feel connected to me because of my unique history.

When you stop comparing yourself to others and instead embrace your rare, precious and truly unique gifts, that, my friends, is called empowerment.  There is room for all of us!

13 Responses to “Embrace your competitors”

  1. Coach T.I.A says:

    And look at you today!! And your wonderful, amazing, unique book which only YOU could have written! Thank you for being enough 🙂

  2. […] relationships that then morph into dear friendships, getting to know Pam Slim (then Pam Stewart) began with one blog comment. The writer insider of her connected with the writer inside of me. One comment lead to a few more, […]

  3. Gabriel says:


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Some of them are really interesting

  4. Hi Pamela,

    There’s room for all of us to learn more about escaping from cubicle nation or corporate America!

    Take care,

  5. *Excellent* article, Pamela. I much prefer this attitude in myself, and it’s really reinforcing to hear your stories. Reminds me of the book “Love is the killer app,” which encourages sharing. Thanks!

  6. Pam,

    I echo what others have said here. Keep going with your dream book. Only you can tell your story from your unique perspective. And that uniqueness may touch one reader and ignite a spark that leads to change in a way you can’t even imagine.

    I am also writing a book, my autobiography, and, yes, there are other autobiographies about people with cerebral palsy, like Christy Brown’s “My Left Foot”. But no one else has had experiences exactly like mine or tells it like I do. So, yes, there is room for my book on the shelf too, just as there is room for yours.

    Let your unique perspective and passion set you apart!

  7. steve says:

    I always seek out the experts in the field I am interested in. The cool thing is 98% of people started out with nothing, started from scratch. The best experts remember how it was at the start.

    This is an excellent blog I look forward to more of your entries.

  8. Wow, thanks Leah, Patsi, Edie, Susan and Murali for all the positive encouragement! It makes me feel really good to know that I have support for my project.

    May you get just the support and encouragement you need for each of your ventures!


  9. Murali says:

    “I have come to realize that running into people who are doing what I thought was my life’s purpose better than me is a great blessing.” Working with your competitors is the best thing to do, as it not only brings the best in each one of you, it even makes each one much better than they can possible dream alone. This reminds of my college days. I was consistently topped the results every year at my school. But at a state level, I was not anywhere in the top 5%. After I joined polytechnic college, I read a novel in Telugu (prominently spoken in southern states of India)”Trinethrudu” and realized that I was trying to compete with friends in my class and hence my results are at that level. To get statelevel results I need to compete at state level. So I removed my classmates from my competitor’s list and assumed an invisible competitor somewhere in the state. I even shared these thoughts with my so-far competitors in my class. As a result, We all used to work together, share and discuss. And the result is not so obvious. All three of us are on the top three at the State level, myself with a 90.0%. It did not stop there, in the entrance examination conducted statewide to enter into engineering course, we topped again, not exactly in the same order, but we three were in the top 3.

  10. Susan Pichote says:

    Keep going for your dream Pamela. Passion, thats all you need.

    If you ever need a break, and a laugh, check out http://www.goofyblog.net/

    I discovered it last night, sort of by accident, and it brought a chuckle to me when I felt a little down about my own projects.


  11. Edie says:

    Great post! You are such a positive role model. You go girl!

  12. Can you spell passion? Well, you don’t need to, Pamela, you reek of it. Please write your book, I wanna read more of you!

  13. Leah Maclean says:

    Keeping clarifying and going for your dream Pamela. As the sage Andrea Lee talks about …. there are over 30 versions of the bible. If only one book on a topic was ever needed then there would only be one bible – but there’s not. There are people who want to learn about being a corporate escapee just from you – maybe because of your experiences, or who you are, or maybe they just respond well to the way you write. Personally I love your writing style and will be back for a regular read.