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Competition and the Sprinkler Head Effect


When it comes to competition, humans are like sprinkler heads, moving from right to left thinking about who might be sitting next to us and why they might have all the answers that we don’t.

I think it’s safe to say that thinking about what others are accomplishing vs. what we think we aren’t, can send us into a stress-induced tailspin. And yes, I am speaking from experience here!

I would be flat out lying to you if I said that our views of other’s lives, businesses, incomes, families, styles, projects, creativity, and all around accomplishments didn’t freak us the f*ck out just a bit. Not because we aren’t rad or are doing something wrong, but because it’s human nature to somehow think the grass is green on the other side of the fence. News flash! Sometimes that grass is spray-painted green or dead and crunchy. Just saying…

Each day, as we plan out what to post on social media, we scroll through other “competitors” feeds and wonder, how do they have it all together? The Business. The Family. The Looks. The Life. The Everything. It can leave us feeling inadequate and behind the ‘supposed’ 8-ball of whatever we have personally deemed as success.

I recently was at a networking event speaking with another entrepreneur about her life. I was engaged in a jovial conversation over pinot grigio, tomato canapes, and talk of her booking home decor business, 2 kids under 5, their recent family trip to Tuscany, and the home they just closed on.

I thought I might choke on the tomato canapé trying to hold back my “expressive face.”

Needless to say, by the end of the conversation, she turned to me and said, “what about you?” in a friendly, completely non-threatening way that showed actual interest in what I was doing. I needed a second glass of wine (or maybe a third!). I was happy for her and excited to hear about the wonderful successes that had come her way, but part of me wanted to sink into the couch in soft clothes, order an extra large stuffed crust pizza and tub of rocky road, and wallow like a basic b*tch.

I was comparing my life to her ‘seemingly’ perfect existence. I don’t have a husband, children, a mortgage, or a vacation coming up! I was comparing and it made me feel horrible about myself. Why did her successes in business and life make me feel less successful about my own?

For the last 8 years, my business has been my power source. Day in and day out, it’s the first thing I think about when waking up and the last thing on my mind before bed. It has been the majority focus of my time, attention, investment, emotion, and pride. I gauge my own personal success through my business’ success. When my business is lagging, Holly must be lagging too. I have pushed aside all else to focus on making it the best it can be, BUT my successes shouldn’t affect hers just like hers shouldn’t affect mine.

As creative entrepreneurs, we long for growth, forward movement, and general progress from year to year. But, at the end of the day, who we are and what our business is can’t compete for the spotlight in our lives. We want to conquer the mountain and avoid slipping down the hill to do that.

Do yourself a favor sprinkler head, water your own blades of grass and leave the other side of the fence alone! You will both grow at your own pace.

Anything But Gray Events

Want to see more from Holly and the Anything But Gray Events team? Visit her website anythingbutgrayevents.com!

About the Author

Holly Gray
Holly Gray

Holly Gray is the CEO of Anything But Gray Events. The Los Angeles based company specializes in planning and designing colorful corporate, wedding, and social events for creative clients. As a second generation event planner, Holly strives to be an all-around expert in the events field and continues to push the envelope whenever possible. With a dash of sass, a hearty laugh and a splash of bright pink lipstick there you have it! ANYTHING but Gray.

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