With the massive amount of access to information we have these days, it’s easy to learn a lot about what other people are doing. Of course, most people only share their successes (though some smart people share their failures and talk about how they managed them).
With so many people out there doing interesting work, it’s tempting to feel like everyone is your competitor. They’re not.
It reminds me when I was first starting grad school, where everyone I met was, well, amazingly smart. They were probably the smartest group of people I’ve ever been exposed to at once. Now, I’m no slouch in the brains department, but I’m smart enough to know there’s always someone smarter than me. To be sure, it was intimidating to be around such a large group of smart people.
But one of my professors made a good point about being smart in his opening lecture. He pointed out how difficult it is just to go to grad school, and that everyone who does is an intelligent, driven person. After buttering up the class, he stated that everyone in the class was in competition. Not with each other, but with themselves.
The same is true in the world of independent consultants. We all know what it takes to get ahead in this world. We all know clients have plenty of folks who are just as smart as us–if not smarter–to choose from. That means we have to keep ourselves sharp, smart, engaged with the world around us. At all times. Our own habits are the only things that either propel us forward or hold us back. Our worse enemy isn’t ourselves, but rather being contented with what we have.
And our biggest competitors aren’t each other, it’s our own will to continually provide a high-quality service that clients keep coming back to.