Does envy prevent you from building relationships that can benefit you and your business?
The competition between people and businesses today is so fierce that we shy away from any type of engagement, professional or social with “the other side”. Often, envy sits within us well disguised, secretly making us do things against our good judgement.
With the advent of social media, competition and comparison have become even more intensely exaggerated. Under the guise of “likes” we hide our aversion of seeing people look more successful, happy and content in their personal or professional lives. Real or fake, such projections can rise doubts even in the most secure, well-adjusted person. In short, we all fall prey to it.
I wondered what would happen if competing businesses, did in fact talk and find ways of complementing and collaborating, without forming harmful monopolies.
I got my answer a few weeks later from Arya Kahn*, an owner who ran an upscale bakery in Singapore. She recounted a time when she had just set up her business and got news that another shop had opened nearby, selling pretty much the same products and targeting the same market. The owner, Mindy Cass*, also lived in the same neighborhood as Arya, so they would frequently come across each other, but make no effort in exchanging any pleasantries.
Then things changed one summer, when Arya’s business decided to participate in a neighborhood charity event. In the midst of selling her goods, she noticed a young boy come in to buy a few things. She recognized him to be Mindy’s son and thought to herself, “Time to check out the competition!”.
A little while later, Arya was surprised to see Mindy making her way towards her. She introduced herself and then pointed to her baked goods, “These are just amazing!” Arya was warmed by this gesture and the two women started talking animatedly about all the rewards and challenges of running a business.
The exchange also led to the realization that while both the women sold similar products, there was a difference in their pricing. Being more established, Arya’s prices were slightly higher, while Mindy’s offered a more affordable range. Figuring this out, Arya decided to refer clients who found her products “too pricey” to Mindy’s shop.
As it turned out, Mindy’s business was not the only one to benefit from this move. One day Arya got a call from Mindy, saying that she had been approached for a very large order, which her kitchen was not able to manage. She asked if Arya would like to take this offer? Arya gladly accepted. That order belonged to a prestigious institution and earned her thousands of dollars in profit!
I was so heartened to hear this story. Clearly there were far greater gains here for both parties than just money alone.
Fighting envy, while hard, is not impossible. Take the example of the story I just related. A strong relationship borne out of rivalry. How differently could it have gone, if both these people had given into their envy and focused on competing and defeating each other? All it took was an earnest move to reach out. Setting aside insecurities, opened up a world of opportunities.
Acknowledging what we stand to lose because of envy, is a great motivator in overcoming it; from helping us become more accepting and content with ourselves to being more open and engaging with others.
So next time you experience those familiar pangs of envy, kill it. See how your happiness and success will come to life.
*names have been changed to protect individual identity.