Tips on Stepping Out of Competitiveness
In a world full of competition and comparison, it can be challenging to feel noticed or that what you're doing matters in the grand scheme of things. We tend to become defensive when someone starts a business (seemingly providing the same service) in our area. And while capitalism is an economic system that allows for so many people to pursue their dreams, it can also bring out the ugly pieces of our hearts that we try to tuck away for no one else to see. Gossip, bitterness, hatred, self-loathing, pride . . . these are just a few of the unattractive attributes I've witnessed in my short time in the floral industry—and at times, even within myself. So how do we overcome this? How do we have a healthy view of competition? Below are four things to keep in mind and put into practice as you walk this floral journey.
1. There's only one YOU.
You've probably heard the saying, "A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms." Oh, the lessons we can learn from flowers! This may be one of the most important. You aren't pursuing your dream for another person's business, nor are you pursuing your dream for your clients. You are following your heart—and no one else's. Think about it. When a forget-me-not is blooming next to the dahlia patch, it isn't trying to become like the dahlia. Even though the dahlia is often a showstopper, the forget-me-not is perfectly content growing into what it was meant to be—precious little blue or white flowers with a maximum of four petals—because there's a place for each. And there's a place for you. Always.
2. Competition is healthy.
Capitalism characterizes the Western world. Capitalism is an economic system that encourages private ownership and, in turn, produces a setting for healthy competition. On the opposite end of the spectrum is communism, where the state (or government) owns everything. You may be wondering why you're getting an economics lesson in a flower article, but think about it: Because of capitalism, you can start your own business! If you've ever had a job you disliked, you know how much of a blessing it is to have the opportunity to pursue your dream. So when a new flower shop opens down the street from you, remember that the owner is doing the same thing—pursuing their dream! Celebrate that you both have the freedom to do something you love, rather than criticize that more shops are coming to your community.
3. There's room for everyone.
I live in a small college mountain town, and I can name about 10 florists in this area off the top of my head. TEN. And that's not even all of them. The beautiful thing is, we all have plenty of business. I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where most of the florists recognize this, and they have welcomed me in with open arms. You may not be so lucky, but that doesn't mean you can't be the one to start the movement of that mindset in your area. We all have our own style, our preferred clientele, our favorite venues, etc. Truly, there is enough to go around.
4. Be kind.
Be kind is a phrase often easier said than done, but I can assure you that it is not impossible. Have you ever heard the saying, "Kill them with kindness"? There's no better cure for a hard, competitive heart than kindness, for true consideration stems from a place of love. I believe that being open and choosing to show kindness—even when your own heart is hard—will cure you of your competing spirit, too. Are you having a hard time receiving the new flower shop down the street? Are they having a hard time accepting you? Introduce yourself to the owner and treat them to lunch or coffee. Get to know the person behind the business. Learn how you are similar and can relate to one another; learn how you are different and can serve various people. Ask how you can help them—offer to share a flower order, give them an extra hand with a large event, or share your gardening tips. Whether or not they become one of your best friends or simply remain an acquaintance, flowers should bring people together—not tear them apart.
Remember, when the competition seems heavy, keep these four things in mind:
- There's only one you.
- Competition is healthy.
- There's room for everyone.
- Be kind.
What's the common factor in all four of those points? You! It all starts with you. Don't wait for someone else to be kind, and don't let yourself fall into the trap of bitterness. Take control of your heart and mind, and begin to change how you view the floral industry. It is a vast, kind network of people all sitting together at a table where there's room for more, where loving the world through flowers is priority number one.