This is an uncomfortable side of change work that you are bound to come across at some point.
We start seeing each other as competition.
Trainers look at each other and think:
“Oh, well Group X already does that…”
“They don’t do real change like we do…”
“I don’t believe in their methodology…”
I’ve fallen for this plenty myself. We all live in a capitalist society, after all. We grow up constantly being told that we need to compete to get our piece of the pie and that we need to fight for the little opportunities that show up.
This mindset affects social change leaders, too. Even though we’re all fighting to create more equality and improve the world around us – capitalism and the scarcity mindset still affects the way we think.
But if you’re reading this, then I want you to understand:
You don’t have to compete to be able to share your gifts.
There’s no “saturated market”
The first reason why we need to stop competing with each other is clear. We’re fighting each other on a false premise – the idea of a saturated market.
So many leaders in the movement start to believe that there is a limited number of groups that need training. Or there are only a few natural-born leaders. Or that there are only so many people that are interested in joining the movement.
But that’s simply not true. And we know this because new people join social movements every single day. And new organizations seek support and training every day.
If you regularly engage in effective outreach, you know what I mean.
Those people looking for leadership didn’t appear out of thin air – they’ve always been there. Our job as facilitators is often to inspire and encourage people who haven’t engaged previously.
So don’t start thinking that there’s no room for you. Just because there’s one organization doing similar work as you – that doesn’t mean your efforts aren’t also valid and impactful.
Go out and be inspired by others and share your skills and knowledge with the world. Because this isn’t a closed, saturated market. It’s an ever-expanding cycle.
Person A inspired you. You can inspire Person B. They’ll go out and inspire Person C. The movement continues to grow because we’re sharing.
There’s more opportunity than you think
I was taught in economics class that this competition is actually beneficial because it drives innovation. And then I was taught that our world will run out of resources because of this competition.
And then I realized that neither of those arguments are true. Competition doesn’t drive innovation; more often than not, it crushes creativity.
We also don’t have a problem with limited resources, but rather a problem with distribution.
There is way more opportunity out there for us than we can even comprehend. We all think that we’re limited and that we need to compete to survive.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. We need to break away from those thought processes that have been drilled into our heads and start to understand that we can make room for everyone.
We need to avoid these kinds of myths about effective training that capitalism has taught us, and instead focus on ways to raise up those around us.
Our job as facilitators is to support one another, collaborate with each other, and discover ways for all of us to grow as a whole. And that can only happen if you consistently remind yourself that there is an opportunity out there for you.
If you take away anything, it’s this:
Use your skills.
It’s as simple as that. Don’t be scared by the fact that other organizations are already doing it. Don’t look for permission. Keep looking for more training opportunities. And don’t start to think that you’ll never be as good as some famous group.
And at the same time – don’t put down other groups, either.
Instead, you should use your skills to train and inspire others. You can help create more leaders who will do great work and continue the cycle.
Get out there
I hope this inspired you to keep doing fantastic work. Every leader has their ups and downs and sometimes it’s hard to see through the barriers that capitalism has put in front of us.
So I encourage you to challenge yourself, inspire others, and don’t worry about comparing and competing.
Let me know if this is something you struggle with now or in the past. And comment below to share your tips on overcoming these negative thoughts.