Bigger is not always better…

Ok, truth time… Some days the comparison trap kicks my ass. Living in today’s day and age of social media, filters, and the number of likes can really get me tangled up. As I’m watching people grow their numbers, soar in the projects they’re doing, and seemingly go from rags to riches, when some days, I can barely remember how to open a Word document leaves me wondering if I should just throw in the towel.

A few months ago, I was at an event hosted by a dynamic coach. She had spent probably 1000’s of dollars to host her clients and several other professionals. The venue was breathtaking, the hors d’oeuvres were out of this world, the champagne was bubbly and bright, and the decorations seemed to be straight out of a Martha Stewart magazine. The inner turmoil of comparison and the rumbling voices of insecurity and self-doubt began to make my steady legs quiver.

The door opened, allowing the crisp outside air to fill the room as another guest arrived. The hostess was all smiles as she greeted her client. The woman quickly stopped her and said: “My name is Marie, not Mary.” Ohhhh, ouch. Just a few minutes later I was stunned to hear the hostess refer to her own client as Mary yet again. Double ouch!!

I went to another event where a speaker was discussing bottom line marketing and the importance of strategy and execution. I was totally lost and my head was whirling. How could I be in business for 20+ years and have NO idea what this man was referring to? Every year, once a year, I feel proud and loud when I run a P&L for my accountant and successfully email it off to her. Bottom lines… execution… COI… leave me asking WTH?!?

Yet another business event in which I was excited to learn, connect, and share as I brought my naive little self to the table. There was a lot of hustle and bustle in the discussion of external factors, and how numbers feed your profitability. They talked about the importance of having a database, profit margins, liabilities, and target market. Imagine my dread when the speaker looked at me and questioned “Allyson, what drives your bottom line? How do you get in front of sales prospects?” “Sales prospects??” I asked. “Yes, yes you know, a customer…” “Oh, a customer,” I responded, barely able to catch my breath or focus a single thought.

Finally able to get a grip on myself and realize it was the beast of comparison having this effect on me, I simply spoke from my heart. “Sir, my clients are real people to me. I build relationships with the people I work with and trust that whoever needs to enter my doors, will. I don’t measure anything in my business. I plant seeds of respect, kindness, and mattering. I lead with relationships, reliability, and respect. So far, 20 years in, it’s worked really well for me, and for them.” He looked back at me as blankly as I had initially at him. His eyes quickly shifted across the room, “Sue, what do you have to say about profitability?”

So here’s reality, events like these often leave me feeling dumb and defeated. I have no idea how to measure, market, or meet business prospects. Yes, I definitely love to see how many comments or likes I get on social media, Google reviews are awesome to read, and it still matters to me what other people think. I can easily lose my footing when I compare myself to others. But here’s what I know for sure, my work matters. Though I may never reach millions or have mega bucks in the bank, I do make a difference in this world.

Every once in a while, when I get sucked into the grips of the comparison trap, I have to remember who I am and why I’m here. I’m reminded of a story I heard way back (maybe more like waaaayyyy back). It’s the story of the starfish. Even then, upon reading it for the very first time, I knew it was the heart of the work I do. I knew I had actually found my business model. Because you know what?? I can make a difference to even just one!

Starfish Photograph - The Starfish Story, Sandy Beach by Desiderata Gallery

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