I was talking to a friend last week and she was telling me about the anxiety that she was feeling as she prepares for some upcoming conferences where she will have a chance to sell her business. She mentioned that she always feels like she is in shark infested waters and surrounded by people who did not want her to do well. “This is sales”, she said. She shared how this was making her emotional and a bit insecure and she was embarrassed to admit that in the past these feelings led to making rash decisions due to her anxiety and fear.
As I listened to her, I couldn't help but think how often this occurs in business and in our personal lives. Sometimes we worry so much about other people being better than us that we allow this to lead to insecurity, which may lead to making poor decisions. There is this myth that there is only room for “one”, if it’s not me, it’s you. I have run into this quite a bit in my career among peers who worry that if someone else is better or brings something different, then there is not enough space for all. This is simply not true!
After she shared what was on her mind, I tried to be her friend in the moment and give her the best advice I could give. Disclaimer: I am not “in sales”, but I do believe that we all deal with these feelings at some point.
I simply told her if she felt that she was in shark infested waters, she needed to focus on her swim! She needed to focus on getting better than she was yesterday, everyday! I believe part of getting better every day is surrounding ourselves with people who are better and learning everything we can from them. Second, sharing what we know with others who are also working on getting better. Don't hold knowledge hostage! Lastly, learning from our mistakes and making it our business to know everything there is to know about whatever it is that we are focusing on. This is how we build relationships; this is what leads to trust, and this is what will ultimately lead to better opportunities.
I am not sure if this helped her, but I know that it helped me. It reminded me that I can't always control outcomes, even when I do my best, but I can control how I prepare, and I can control my reaction if things don't work in my favor. We are not always going to be the best fit, we won't always win, but if we focus on our swim, we get faster, we will get better, and we will eventually make waves!