Are you throwing a toddler tantrum?

go sit in time out

Last year, I heard my 7-year old son start shouting at my 4-year old son.

Even though I was several rooms away, the shouting was so loud I could hear every word.

"It's mine! You can't have it! Give it back!"

At the same time, my 4-year old was squealing in anger.

"Nooo! I had it first!"

"But it's MINE!"

"I had it FIRST!"

I sighed, slowly got up, and walked towards the commotion.

Turns out, the two boys were fighting over an old-school metal Slinky.

My 4-year old found it in the play room and started playing with it, but my 7-year old OWNS the Slinky and was not ok with the 4-year old touching it for any reason.

I broke up the fight, diverted the boys into separate activities, and began to walk away.

"...and E wouldn't let me play with his Legos, and it's just not FAIR!"

I stopped.

My 7-year old had burst into tears behind me, and continued to tell me about how his older brother had refused to share his toys with him.

I literally facepalmed.

Have you ever tried to logically point out hypocritical behavior to an emotional 7-year old?

He wanted unrestricted access to the toys of others, but didn't want to share any of his own.

Many of us "adults" exhibit similar behavior in real life.

We want others to be generous with us, but tightly clench our fist around what it ours instead of offering to share.

This is especially the case with us business owners, and how we view "competitors."

Do you follow your "competitors?"

Does your stomach sink every time they launch a new product, or engineer an especially good promotion or offer?

Are you obsessed with their website traffic, social media accounts, or sales rank?

If so, have you found yourself inadvertently "copying" them to keep up?

If any of this rings true, I predict something.

I predict that you have already lost sight of serving your own audience.

You are focusing your gaze in the wrong direction.

Just like you should occasionally scan your mirrors while driving, but mainly look through the windshield, becoming obsessed with your competitors is like staring out the back window while trying to drive down the highway.

If you must pay any attention to others in your market, here's how to do it:

Instead of suspiciously eyeing competitors, be on the lookout for collaborators and partners.

If you sell silicone spatulas, seek out the measuring cup guy. Do a promo swap to your email lists. Become affiliates for each other. Create a co-branded bundle.

Find the recipe book author who is willing to let you share an excerpt of her book as a digital download.

Long term, these relationships could even lead to potential acquisitions and exits.

If you want others to share their toys with you, take the first step and let them play with your Slinky first.


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