A personal insight into why we want to collaborate and yet clutch onto our business success, both at the same time. When we release the need to fiercely compete, we open up a flow that results in more, not less.
The dream of every business owner is to grow their business, right? I mean, why do it unless it is constantly evolving and challenging you on your fabulous journey? And let's be blunt, it's bloody hard work. We don't want anyone to get in our way or take what we have strived so hard to get or yet get.
So, do we focus on what is happening outside our business, other than our clients? And if we do, is it more from a space of resentment, than a place of "we are all in this together"? Or do we reach out, help others up, connect and share?
I got thinking about it this week. I've noticed lately a bit - well, actually, a lot - of competitiveness amongst entrepreneurs, which is fine, but it has been showing up as not believing there is enough to go around. For example, a graphic designer feeling needles of anxiousness when another one gets a great gig, or a marketer experiencing pangs of pain when someone else declares they are expert at something they also specialise in.
Oh dear, when did we get so off track?
I noticed it myself recently on both sides of the fence.
I launched www.TheResourcefulWoman.com.au last week with people-connector Jennifer Rose-Bryant. I proudly posted it in a group, to see it was pretty quickly taken down, even though it satisfied the guidelines.
A fellow publisher was silent about it, even though I knew for a fact that they knew. And I wondered - what is going on?
This week, I offered my book Book Benefits for free in a couple of groups, and was politely told not to spam. Now, this book doesn't sell a single thing. I don't ask you to sign up to seminars or web courses. I simply pass on my years of experience in the hope you can achieve what I do. But instead of embracing a free book, it was ever-so gently snubbed. Ouch! Even a gentle snub hurts when your heart is in the right place.
Okay, I do get it. A lot of people are writing books about ME ME ME! I've downloaded them. They brag about all the money they've made, rather than just getting down to tin tacks and building their personal brand by sharing knowledge. So yep, they give authentic people a bad wrap.
But we don't have to be like that.
Instead, we can collaborate.
Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into. Wayne Dyer
Before I explain how, time for some honesty. I mentioned I noticed it on both sides of the fence, so truth, I've noticed it in me too. Ah, that tinge of envy when Elizabeth Gilbert, someone I admire, announces she is launching a book on 'your creative self'. Well, she is very much qualified to do so! But why that tinge of envy? She's achieved far more than I have in the book publishing arena.
Here's the insight. It's because, as creatives, we feel deep down that there isn't enough. That ol' creative wheel only has so much oil on it. The brilliant drawing you just did might be the last light of inspiration you ever have. The client you landed might tire of you and go elsewhere. That brilliant website you created might never happen again.
In short, we dwell on our creative essence as being finite, like a cup of tea. Once drunk, the cup is empty. We have to leave our seat, boil the kettle and go through the whole process again, but it won't be as easy, right? Now, if we truly thought about making a cup of tea that way, we'd be nuts!
I'm here to tell you that there is plenty of boiled water and creativity and 'what you do' is in abundance. And it IS as simple as making a cup of tea.
We kid ourselves into thinking creativity is difficult. And somehow limited.
It's time for us all to realise that there is enough to go around. In fact, the more giving you are, the better the community you are in becomes. This may sit oddly with some. Others may recognise it as the law of attraction (and its many names).
Stop and think about that for a moment. If you give more to those around you, your community around you grows and flows. And when we express thanks for that, we compound the effect.
The essence of it is that the more we are grateful for what we have, the more the flow happens. When we resent, even just a tiny bit, someone else's idea or success, we close the door to that flow, ever so slightly.
This awareness has been a knock on effect for myself, which is to take the essence of Community into the broader business community, work together, help each other, and at the base of all, the essence of all we do, live with integrity in our business dealings.
I launched The Resourceful Woman because I felt we could all benefit from being in one book together. I don't teach intellectual property law, but if a lawyer was in the same book explaining why brands need to be protected, we would boost each other. If I compounded this support network by 30 women, it would be an incrediblely powerful resource for others. And, it would lead by example.
There does have to be a cost for this but I developed a model that would deliver exceptional value, way more than magazine advertising. Of course, books don't create themselves. And the traditional model of selling a book is slowing, making it an expensive thing to do. So, I thought, what if all these women also helped distribute the book and pretty much guarantee its success? It would have far greater reach than sitting in a book shop, and would flow on to growth for all.
Whether or not this will be taken for the authenticity that is behind it, time will tell. I trust it will.
If we face up to how we feel, and realise that those pangs of envy are there to remind us, like a pinch to the arm, that we have momentarily fallen into the trap of 'lack' rather than abundance, we will all grow. Together.
Here are 10 ways you can collaborate and grow, right now
1. Connect with someone in a complementary industry and agree to help each other.
2. Connect someone in a totally foreign industry to yours, with someone you know.
3. Share some of your knowledge in a business group without mentioning who you are. Just share.
4. Go make yourself a cup of tea. Drink it. Go make yourself another one. See how easy that was? As you drink your second cup, imagine it is creative energy, refilling. Be aware of its abundance. Good. You've got it!
5. Say 'yes' to a function you felt nervous about going to. Go. Just listen. Ask lots of questions. Be open to connecting and sharing. Opportunities will flow to you. Synchronicity will happen.
6. Be aware of how you feel when you read posts on social media about success. Are you feeling the love, or a little resentment that you didn't think of it first or do it? Stop. Go make another cup of tea. Repeat #4.
7. Send a note of thanks to a mentor. Send several if you can. Reflect on the gratitude you feel for how they helped you.
8. Check your own mentoree list. Are you mentor to anybody? If no, resolve to change this by the end of the month.
9. Send a note of congrautulations to someone in your immediate industry. (Be sincere, or don't do it.)
10. Say thank you. Often. Daily. Listen to the Ho'oponono Healing Prayer - this Soundcloud one is particularly beautiful. I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.
And remember. There is enough to go round.
Clare McAlaney is a published author and designer, photographer and artist. She has spent over two decades as a brand guru and delights in helping others bring their vision to life.