When Dirty Competition Strikes, Sisterhood Comes to the Rescue

by Mary Luz Oscategui, IMI Founder

 

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As the professional birthing community grows every year, more people discover a passion to empower, support and inform expecting and new parents. Most of us become birth professionals because we are inspired to empower parents in making informed decisions during and after pregnancy. Perhaps it was a personal experience or witnessing a lack of support among expecting and new parents that initiated your professional journey.

It’s no surprise why we as women are instinctively drawn to our industry. It offers the perfect opportunity and blend of approaching pregnancy from a loving and non-judgmental attitude for the families we work while welcoming the collaboration and support of one another. It’s richly fulfilling. At least this is what I thought when I began my professional birth journey until I was met with an unfortunate harsh reality of birth professionals who lose confidence, become fearful and lash out. Many of these professionals fall into what I have coined the“triple C” syndrome: compare, copy, compete. Instead of directing their energy inward to embrace and feed their own authenticity, their energy moves toward those who they feel the need to compare themselves to, copy, and compete with in an unhealthy and unproductive manner.

Dirty Competition

Under stress and lack of self-confidence, birth professionals can easily become consumed by anger, fear and jealousy. They attack those they are most afraid of; in the business world it’s the competition. They focus all their efforts to out-do, out-beat and out-last the competition using a number of tactics:

Try to discredit businesses

Spread rumors, make false claims

Treat competition with disrespect, attack them personally

Follow their competition’s every move and try to copy their ideas and style

From when I began my professional journey in the birth industry until this very day I have encountered professionals who have approached my business with all of the dirty tactics listed above. For example, another business owner started bad-mouthing me and discrediting my work. At first it stung and it broke me down especially because at the very same time I just became a single mother and moved to a new place without any family or friends. Then a very dear friend put things into perspective.

Ana said to me, “Mary, you are shining like a bright light – so bright that some people just can’t take it.” My heart opened. Ana gave me a great gift of support and sisterhood. Her insight allowed me to let go of the hurtful words, forgive, find peace in myself and realize it wasn’t my problem – it was theirs. In fact, I soon understood that they were actually doing me a huge favor by drawing their attention toward me. Oscar Wilde once said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” With more talk from my competition about my business and more energy directed at me, my business continued to gain more attention and grow. I believe this was also because I did not feed or direct my energy toward those who saw me as competition. While they were busy directing negative attention toward me, I was busy putting all my passion and creativity into my business. Today there are at least a couple of women I have been made aware of that follow my every move, try to imitate what I do and then try to discredit me. I am even aware of a few in my company’s internal network who “spy” for what is considered to be my competition. So what do I do? Nothing. That’s right absolutely nothing. Why? Because I know that by putting my attention on them, I’m taking away attention from my business and more importantly myself. Now this does not mean I don’t get frustrated from time to time or want to roll my eyes in disgust. I am human of course. I allow these feelings to appear, be acknowledged, pass through and then I move on.

It’s Okay to be Angry. It’s Not Your Fault

It’s human nature to feel angry when being confronted with negativity. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to vent. It’s okay to feel confused. But striking back will give your competition exactly what they were looking for and a reason to keep at it. It can also harm your reputation and your life’s work. As a result, it’s best to avoid engaging with them for these three reasons:

1. It’s their problem – You were attacked because your competition sees you as a threat to their business. Why? They are not aware or connected to their own unique gifts so all they can do is compare and then do what they can to bring you down.. Their fear of failure and their lack of awareness is their problem, not yours. Allow yourself to let go of their pressure and fear and continue to stand strong in your light.

2. They’re not your responsibility – Since your competition lacks confidence and connection to their own authenticity, unless they ask you specifically, it’s not your responsibility to react or offer any type of guidance. However what you can do is set an example of what it means to be an ethical, mindful and smart business owner.

3. Stay focused on what you want to strengthen – Act professionally at all times, especially in the presence of customers. Don’t waste negative energy by responding or defending yourself. Now, more than ever, your focus must be on building and strengthening your business. In the end your business, you and your customers will be better off for it. If customers or colleagues press you, simply tell them you will not acknowledge the rumors or the attacker. In private, consider the attacker’s motives. Whether it’s a ridiculous rumor or a nasty blog, document the date, time and specifics to determine if it is an isolated incident or a series of unfair practices.

4. Take legal action when necessary – Most entrepreneurs are not foolish enough to breech professional ethics codes. But if there is slander or copyright infringement or any other illegal unprofessional act, consider making a complaint or getting legal counsel. In the end, you have to protect your business.

Focus Inward

Negative attacks may come as a surprise to you, even more so in an industry which is firmly rooted in building positive and supportive experiences for families in particular pregnant and postpartum women.

As a result, no matter what side you are on, it’s essential that you do not let competition eat you up inside. Rather than allowing your motivation to come from jealousy or revenge, invite it to come from your life’s work and passion: inspiring, encouraging and educating others.

Invite Your Sisterhood

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As women entrepreneurs we have a great opportunity to band together in a strong and powerful way. As much dirty competition that exists, so does the special bond between sisterhoods that transcend competition. A nurturing sisterhood provides layers of support, inspiration and strength. It gives us a deep understanding that we can work together and still succeed independently. A Sisterhood understands that we each have unique gifts to offer that are much needed in this world. A Sisterhood also understands that abundance is real and scarcity is not. The bond of a sisterhood will not prevent dirty competition from coming your way but it will help you move through it and come out even stronger. Lastly a sisterhood encourages and celebrates your authentic expression and gifts.

1.Find your unique expressions: Your experiences, your motivation and your style make up your unique expressions. It’s what makes you, you! Embrace your expressions and customers will acknowledge your personalized services. It will not matter who copies you, for your unique expression will make you very distinct and original.

2.Acknowledge and embrace your gifts: The more you acknowledge and embrace your unique gifts, the more individualized you will make your brand. Your customers will know it and the public will know it. You will no longer see others as your competition and be personally affected by their dirty tactics.

3.Join, strengthen and grow the sisterhood: You may feel alone but you are not. There are professional colleagues among you that are ready to receive and give support. How do you find them? Make a list of colleagues, who believe in you, believe in what you do and enjoy celebrating it. It doesn’t matter if you start out with a small circle of one or two. Your sisterhood has begun and will continue to grow.

4.Collaborate: Collaborating with other professionals is a sure way of strengthening your business, reputation and following. It also provides positive way for other professionals to engage. It lessens and weakens any negative attention from those who are keen on competing with you.

As much as the importance and motivation continues among birth professionals to empower expecting and new parents with education so that may make informed decisions, it is just as important for all of us as birth professionals to set an example for what support can look like within our professional network. I invite all of you to join me in the hood where authenticity, support and collaboration shines bright.

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