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!