There are many high-flying women out here who believe success revolves around taking one’s place within previously male dominated arenas. That it means getting the same roles, earning the same pay, being afforded the same or better opportunities for growth. With this, the collective advancement of our mindset has been extraordinary, achieving positions now that a few generations ago would have seemed impossible.
Such a shift is undoubtedly overdue for us, but amidst our progress as a gender, how much are we paying attention to its impact on the individual? How, amongst the triumph stories and inspirational talks, do we keep from losing a core message that will serve us in all areas of our life – not just business? The message that yes, as a sex we are competent and capable of anything, and not that yes, as a sex we are competent and capable as men.
From a young age human beings are introduced to the concept of competition. Pre-school might have us intent on drawing the best picture or being the quietest at storytime. As we move forwards into school, it becomes about who’s fastest in gym or top of the class academically. Finally, we’re onto our careers and it’s now about being first in line for promotion or the most successful entrepreneur in our field.
Of course it doesn’t stop there. Our need to be better than others, or at least equal to, also extends the rivalry into our friendships and family lives. As exhausting as it sounds, it’s true that a little competition can be healthy, but when one continually focuses on external motivations instead of internal inspiration, it’s not. It’s then that we create the perfect breeding ground for disharmony between our feelings and our ambitions.
The ‘lack mindset’
Constantly viewing yourself in comparison to, or in competition with, someone else implies that there can only be one type of win and space only for one winner. With this develops a belief that there simply isn’t enough to go around; not enough wealth, accolades, clients, time, press, recognition, *enter as appropriate*. Surely, with the amount of success stories we now hear daily, the number of businesses mimicking each other or offering slight variations of similar products, we’re able to realise that there is plenty for the taking.
Take a look specifically at technology for example: The numerous social networks, bidding sites, dating sites, apps, games, the list goes on. They’re not all as well known or as high profile as each other, but the sheer number shows there is room for recognition or riches for anyone with an idea, drive and perseverance. The problem occurs when you believe results in life are in limited supply, this is the moment when something odd starts to happen.
It seems that when we see lack instead of abundance, by default we begin basing a majority of our decisions on fear. A fear of failure, missed opportunities, wasted efforts, the poor house. And sometimes it works. It gets the job done, but the issue is this: sustained fear is unhealthy. Toxic, even. Fear that unless you are in the boardroom you haven’t truly made it, fear that people will overlook you because you have children, are not sexy or smart enough, will keep you exactly where you’ve always been mentally; never mind the strides you might be making in the outside world. By using fear and competition as your guidance system, you run the risk of losing touch with your own, real and authentic inner compass for fulfilment and happiness.
When you understand that as a woman, as a person, you are inherently enough, you will steadily begin realising that you have the ability to create the exact circumstances required in order to fulfil your goals.
Believe it or not, there is a simple remedy for this. Screw what you hear, what society uses as its marker of affluence and success! What is it that makes you feel successful and satisfied? What are your terms and conditions on your road to achievement? When you understand that as a woman, as a person, you are inherently enough, you will steadily begin to realise that you have the ability to create the exact circumstances required in order to fulfil your goals. They are dependent on no one else.
It’s about being your best, not being better than someone else
Most people are familiar with the thinking that you get what you focus on in life. There has been many a book written on the law of attraction, on matching your mindset and energetic frequency to what you desire in life. If you’re new to this, I urge you, explore it.
If you’re already a believer, keep this in mind and think about what happens when you’re constantly concerned with being bigger, better, faster than someone else. Focusing on competition from a place of fear and not growth means all you’re going to do is perpetually create more and more competition in your life. Beat one contender, and before you have time to enjoy your victory, you’re looking around to see what’s next.
So, how do you know if you’re focusing from a place of fear or a place of growth? Here’s a thought: Why don’t you ask yourself? Stop and consciously ask yourself the question. Are you fighting against something or gunning for something? Are you trying to beat ‘ the man’ to the top or, are you trying to be the woman at the top? The two are different.
Take some time to think about the people of this world who have done great things, and think about the competition they had. Think Howard Hughes, the Wright Brothers, Rosalind Franklin, Helen Greiner, Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Stephanie Kwolek. If they had needed opposition or external competition in order to realise their every potential, how different might their results have been? Where would we all be now?
When you live in the fear that achievement is only possible if someone else doesn’t get there first or outdo you, there is a disservice being done to your innate ability to do and be your best, no matter what. So, the next time you have your eyes set on a goal, acknowledge the others in your field, keep them in your peripheral vision, but be more inspired by your internal driving force. Be your best first and the best second. Your success depends on no one but you and you contain all the motivation you need.
Tori Ufondu is a Mindset Breakthrough Coach. She works internationally and is renowned for championing self-awareness through intensive, highly in-depth sessions, which cover both the personal and professional challenges that businesspeople face. Connect with her at www.tori-ufondu.com and @tori_ufondu